MIAMI (AFP) - World No. 1 Nelly Korda shook off a triple-bogey at the penultimate hole, closing regulation with a birdie and winning the LPGA Pelican Championship with a birdie at the first hole of a four-way play-off on Sunday (Nov 15).
The Olympic gold medallist notched her fourth LPGA Tour victory of the season, but in a way that no one saw coming.
She duelled all day with Lexi Thompson, falling two shots back with her triple bogey seven at the 17th at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida.
Korda, 23, responded with a birdie at the 72nd hole for a one-under 69 that was enough to put her into a play-off after Thompson closed with back-to-back bogeys in her own 69.
They were joined on 17-under 263 by South Korean Kim Sei-young, who carded a 67, and New Zealand's former world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who signed for a 66.
After all the late drama, Korda brought the play-off to a swift conclusion with a 12-foot birdie at the first hole of sudden death - the 18th.
"I just found myself probably the best putt," she said. "Putted two times in a row, and went in really nicely."
The victory means she will go into the season-ending Tour Championship next week 12 points ahead of South Korean Ko Jin-young in the race for LPGA Player of the Year honours.
She is the first American since Stacy Lewis in 2012 to win four LPGA titles in a season, but she admitted that there was a moment when she thought she had lost her chance.
"I almost kind of lost faith," this year's Women's PGA Championship winner said. "I was like, OK, time to focus on next week in a sense."
But when the play-off came around, she was rose to the occasion.
"For sure, I knew what (the putt) was doing, moving a little left to right.
"I gave myself a lot of opportunities this week. My putting probably wasn't the best, but (I) pulled it off with it, so that's what counts."
Thompson, whose 11 LPGA titles include one Major, remained without a victory since 2019.
Ko and Kim might have been surprised to find themselves in the play-off given the early dominance of Korda and Thompson.
But Ko was pleased to finish the week with four rounds in the 60s and looking forward to closing out the season at Tiburon next week.
"Overall I played solid," she said. "Hopefully I will be able to keep the positives from this week going into next week. Hope for a few more putts to drop.
"It's only four more competitive rounds until the season is over. Hopefully I'll be able to finish off on a solid way."