Korda beats Ko in playoff to win thriller in hometown

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Nelly Korda (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

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Nelly Korda snatched her first win since November 2022 with a thrilling victory over Lydia Ko in a playoff at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club.

Korda got up and down from the back of the green for par on the second playoff hole after Ko three-putted from 25-feet. The American had already eagled the par-5 17th and birdied 18 in regulation play to force extra holes, denying Ko the win she needed to enter the Hall of Fame.

“Definitely not a boring day. The amount of support I received this week was unbelievable,” said Korda, who ultimately recorded a 2-over 73 in the final round. “I’m so grateful for it and so surprised with how many people came out and watched. They kept me in it. I didn’t think I even had a chance, and then obviously making the eagle on 17, I knew that I needed a birdie on 18 to even have a chance to get into a playoff. Good ole Nelly fashion making it dramatic.”

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Korda entered the day four shots clear but sixteen holes without a birdie saw her lead evaporate. A run of bogey, double bogey, bogey from the 14th coupled with a Ko eagle on 17 saw her fall three shots back of the New Zealander but remarkably claw her way into a playoff with a dramatic finish.

With the victory, Korda becomes the 43rd different American to earn nine or more wins on the LPGA Tour, and she crosses the $9 million mark in career earnings on the LPGA Tour with $9,223,989 total. The win is her sixth victory in the United States, and Korda is the first wire-to-wire winner with ties on the LPGA Tour since Ko won the 2022 CME Group Tour Championship. She is also the second consecutive player to win in the city in which she resides, joining Ko, who did so last week at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

“Every win has a story,” said Korda, who is the first American winner of the 2024 LPGA Tour season. “Being in my hometown and having the hometown support was incredible. I didn’t think this many people would show up. Even on the first day, Thursday, the amount of people that were out here supporting was incredible. I couldn’t have done it without all their positive energy.”

“At the beginning of (last) year, I would never say golf is easy, but the top 10s were flowing. I was just flowing, playing well, but I could never take that step of winning,” said Korda.

“Just knowing that even after a tough year that I can still win out here, and that I just need to relax a little bit more, do my work, keep my head down, and keep pressing on.”

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire carded a final round of 69 for a level-par total and a share of 31st place while Stephanie Meadow was T49 on four-over.

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