MIAMI (AFP) – Jessica Korda rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the first playoff hole to win the LPGA Tournament of Champions yesterday, rallying from two shots down to beat Danielle Kang.
Korda, who fired a third-round 60 on Saturday to put herself within striking distance of overnight leader Kang, fired a five-under-par final round of 66 for a 24-under total of 260 at the Four Seasons Golf & Sports Club in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Kang, who led by three strokes at the turn, closed with a three-under-par 68.
Korda captured her sixth LPGA title, but her first since the Honda LPGA Thailand in February of 2018.
She left herself more work than Kang at the first playoff hole – the par-three 18th.
But she rattled in her long birdie putt to pile on the pressure, giving a fist-bump and fierce “C’mon” when the putt dropped. Kang couldn’t get her shorter effort to drop. “Everyone says low expectations,” she said of the season-opener.
“But I always expect, I don’t show up to a tournament just to show up,” said Korda, whose victory was her first with her parents, former Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova, in the gallery.
They watched her shatter the tournament scoring record of 14-under set by South Korean Ji Eun-hee in 2019.
Korda said the final round had its frustrations.
“I didn’t have great numbers all day. I was in between shots all day. It was just frustrating because I wanted to be aggressive, but then I wasn’t,” she said.
“And then (I) kind of just said, You know what? Forget about it. Just stick to your process and be aggressive when you can and take those opportunities.
“Having those putts roll in definitely helped.”
Korda had shaken off a bogey at the third hole with back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh and added another pair of birdies at 13 and 14.
Kang was three-under through 14 with a two-shot lead. But she three-putted for her first bogey of the week at the 15th.
World number five Kang, who was also seeking a sixth LPGA title, then hit into the trees right of the green at 16. She salvaged an impressive par, but Korda birdied to pull level.
They both birdied 17 to move to 24-under, and both parred the 72nd hole.
Korda’s younger sister Nelly, ranked fourth in the world, finished third, applying pressure with six birdies in a seven-hole span from the seventh through the 13th.
She settled for a seven-under-par 64 for 262. South Korea’s Chun In-gee was a further five strokes back after a 67 for 267.