Sunday, May 25, 2014

Airbus LPGA Classic Sunday: Jessica Korda's 65 Makes Her 3rd Repeat Winner on LPGA in 2014

Jessica Korda turned it on during the home stretch of the Airbus LPGA Classic and just beat 3rd-round leader Anna Nordqvist to the finish line, thanks to 7 birdies in her last 12 holes, 6 of them coming on the back and 4 in her last 5 holes, with the winning birdie coming on the final hole.  All it took for Korda to become the 3rd repeat winner on the LPGA in 2014 was a bogey-free 65 that got her to -20, 1 shot better than Nordqvist and 2 better than playing partners Michelle Wie and Charley Hull, along with Catriona Matthew.

But for awhile, this tournament was even wider open than the JLPGA event that Sun-Ju Ahn won today.  Whereas Ahn had started the day with the entire field within 7 shots of the lead, Nordqvist had only 13 players within 5 shots of her at the start of the day.  But she opened the door with bogeys on 1 and 9 and an uncharacteristic single birdie on a side she had owned the 1st 3 rounds (33-31-31!), falling to -15 for the week.  That allowed Wie to take the lead at -17 with 4 birdies in her 1st 7 holes, or rather tie Matthew for the lead, as the veteran twice got to -17 on the front herself.  Eun-Hee Ji made 4 birdies after an opening bogey to catch Nordqvist at -15, while Hull birdied 4 holes between 5 and 12 to get to -16.

Matthew, Wie, and Hull would each falter a bit early on the back, as Matthew bogeyed 10 and 12 to fall back to -15, Wie bogeyed the 12th to drop to -16, and Hull bogeyed the 13th to move to -15.  Nordqvist, meanwhile, was figuring out how to get the ball in the hole again, as she birdied 11 and 13 to get to -17.  And Korda was making a charge of her own with birdies on 7, 10, and 12 to move to -16.  And that's when Korda turned on the afterburners:  she birdied 14, 15, and 16 to soar to -19.  And a good thing it was, as Hull would match Korda's feat, birdie for birdie, and Wie responded with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 join Hull at -18.  All this came as Matthew birdied 13, 14, and 16 to also get to -18, while Nordqvist made it 4 players right on Korda's heels with a birdie of her own on 16.

So with 2 holes to play it was anyone's tournament.  In the end, the players who birdied 18 would finish 1-2, while Wie, Hull, and Matthew had to settle for T3, a single shot ahead of Jenny Shin, 2 ahead of Ji, Lexi Thompson, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and 3-up on Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu, Brittany Lincicome, and Belen Mozo.

In short, Korda's 1st win in the States and 1st win after the 1st event of a season was quite the barnburner.  I'm glad I kept her at #4 in my ranking of the top 22 female pros on the planet under 22, even though youngsters on other tours were passing her in the wins column!


Colin N.Z said...

With so many players in the final round having a chance to make a major change to the Stats Landing and Rankings we ended up with very little change and Inbee survives another week at No1. From what little I saw of Inbee she was struggling for length and accuracy off the tee maybe she is not 100% at the moment.

robert thompson said...

Again, Rocket falters. Twenty two birdies, and minus ten finish. Maybe she needs a mental coach. Like So Yeon Ryu, So talented, and not wining. They are young, and still have time to climb to the top . Just need to become mentally tough.