Golf: Nelly Korda wins Pelican Championship to regain women’s No. 1 ranking

Nelly Korda's rise this year is remarkable given she had missed much due to a blood clot in her arm that required surgery.. PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI – Nelly Korda fired seven birdies in a six-under 64 on Sunday to win the LPGA Pelican Women’s Championship and return to the top of the world rankings.

She finished at 14-under 196 to earn a one-stroke win over Lexi Thompson (66), while Allisen Corpuz (69) finished three shots off the lead.

The tournament was shortened from 72 to 54 holes after tropical storm Nicole forced Pelican Golf Club to stay closed on Thursday.

Korda’s storming last round saw her retain the title she won in 2021 and lift her first trophy of what has been a tough 2022.

She missed much of the first half of the season because of a blood clot in her arm that required surgery. She had taken the last five weeks off after missing back-to-back cuts at the NW Arkansas Championship and the Ascendant LPGA in Texas.

“Honestly, amazing,” said Korda, who will rise from No. 4 to supplant Thai teenager Atthaya Thitikul. “There has been more downs than ups this year, and I think that that’s what makes this so much sweeter to me.”

It will be Korda’s third stint atop the rankings, with her two previous runs there totalling 29 weeks.

Belleair in her home state of Florida proved just the place to turn things around.

“I had good memories on this golf course,” Korda said. “I was home. I had the comfort level of my parents being in the crowd, too, which plays a part.”

She added that she was “just grateful” to be competing after her health concerns earlier in the year.

The American, who started the day two shots off Corpuz’s lead, surged early with birdies on the first, seventh and eighth holes.

Her four back-nine birdies included a brace at the 16th and 17th that gave her a two-shot lead over compatriot Thompson heading into the 72nd hole.

Her lone mis-step was a bogey at No. 18. But Thompson missed the green at the same hole and her pitch to force a play-off did not drop.

Korda said: “You don’t want to win on a bogey, but I played really solid golf throughout the entire day and just took the loss there.”

Her eighth LPGA title was her first coming from behind, and the Tokyo Olympics gold medallist said she planned to enjoy it before turning her attention to the upcoming Tour Championship season finale.

The LPGA moves on to this week’s season-ending US$7 million (S$9.6 million) CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. AFP, REUTERS

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