Friday, November 15, 2019

Korda goes back-to-back in Taiwan

Nov 03. 2019
Nelly Korda (LPGA photo)
Nelly Korda (LPGA photo)
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By THE NATION

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It was a dramatic final round on Sunday at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC, but ultimately it was 2018 champion Nelly Korda who hoisted the trophy for a second straight year.

Korda started the day with a three-stroke advantage over Minjee Lee and a four-shot lead over Caroline Masson, and she ended the day with a perfect 5-hybrid to set up a birdie on the first playoff hole to take home her third LPGA title.

 

Korda was unable to build on her lead on the front nine with two birdies and two bogeys, and instead watched Lee and Masson chisel away at it. Lee stumbled out of the gates with a bogey, before settling in and going birdie-par-eagle-par-birdie on Nos. 4-8 to tie Korda’s lead at the turn.

 

After finding the water with her second shot on the par-4 9th, Korda made a long putt to save bogey and to keep her title defense alive. Korda birdied holes 10 and 12 to build back a three-shot lead, but that’s when things got interesting. Korda had three short par putts turn into three three-putt bogeys on 14, 15, and 17 to lose the lead for the first time all day to Masson with one hole to play.

 

Masson made par on the par-5 18th hole in regulation while Korda and Lee birdied to force a three-way playoff. Korda was the only one to find the fairway in the playoff and hit a perfect second shot to set up an eagle chance. She left the eagle putt short, but a birdie would be enough for her to win her third career LPGA title and second straight title in Chinese Taipei.

“I kept telling myself, from the heart, from the heart, from the heart, because I was very nervous because it was my first playoff,” Korda said. “The wind kind of brought it back in. I made a couple 3-putts on the back. It just gets away from you so fast, and Caroline made a couple putts and she was one ahead of me on 17. I was like, geez, I have to make a birdie here. Jason [McDede] gave me a little pep talk going from 17 to 18, win or get into a playoff, so he was definitely great today.”

Masson battled all day with just one bogey on the card to fight her way into her first career playoff, and said she can learn a lot from the experience.

 

“I think if you told me at the beginning of the day to be in a playoff, I would have taken it,” Masson said. “Not a bad spot to be in obviously. I did have a couple chances to get maybe two ahead on 17 and make birdie on 18, and didn't use them, but I think overall, I just hung with them all day. Super proud of the way we played and battled. Nelly just hit a great drive, second shot into 18. It probably sets up a little bit better for her being a par 5 than for me. She is a little bit longer off the tee, but great experience.”

Jessica Korda, a five-time LPGA winner, was able to witness her younger sister hoist a trophy for the first time and was the first to give her a congratulatory hug on the 18th green.

“Seeing her walk off 18 in regulation, I saw she had fire in her eyes -- I just felt really good about it and I was just praying that it was going to work out,” Jessica Korda said. “At the end of the day, a playoff, it's totally out of your hands. She piped it down the fairway and hit such a good shot in. I did give her a little bit of crap for leaving it short, as you should. But yeah, so awesome to be here.”

MASSON FINDS SHE STILL HAS FIGHT

It’s been three years since Caroline Masson has tasted an LPGA victory. On Sunday at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, Masson started the round four shots behind Nelly Korda. As Masson walked to the final hole of regulation, she found herself alone on top of the leaderboard with a one-stroke advantage over playing partners Korda and Minjee Lee.

 

With pars on the 72nd hole and on the first playoff hole, Masson fell short of her second career LPGA title but took away a lot of positives from a season-best runner-up result with one event remaining on her 2019 schedule.

“Going back to Florida, I've lived there for a few years now,” Masson said of her plans for the next few weeks leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. “Going to practice hard the next two weeks and be ready. I couldn't get these really good finishes for whatever reason, so it's nice to see one week where it almost all came together, and proved to myself that I can contend with the girls still. Not that old, but sometimes you feel like, man, hopefully you can still hang with them. I think that was nice for me to be able to do that.”

 

PLAYER NOTES

Rolex Rankings No. 8 Nelly Korda (66-67-65-72)

  • Korda hit 9 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 34 putts
  • With her second win of the year, Nelly Korda is the first American with multiple wins in the 2019 season
  • Korda is the third player this season to successfully defend a 2018 title, joining Brooke Henderson at the LOTTE Championship and Danielle Kang at the Buick LPGA Shanghai
  • She is the seventh player to have multiple wins this season, joining Hannah Green (2), Brooke Henderson (2), Mi Jung Hur (2), Jin Young Ko (4), Sei Young Kim (2) and Sung Hyun Park (2)
  • Became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2018 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, which was played at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club
  • Korda and her older sister Jessica (five wins) are one of three sets of sisters in LPGA history to both win titles, joining Annika Sorenstam (72 wins) and Charlotta Sorenstam (one win), and Ariya Jutanugarn (10 wins) and Moriya Jutanugarn (one win)

 

RACE TO CME GLOBE

With her win, Korda earns 500 points and is projected to move from ninth to fourth in the Race to CME Globe with 2,547 points.

 

MONEY

With her win, Korda earns $330,000; she has earned $1,395,909 this season and $2,893,023 for her career.

 

KORDA’S 2019 IN A NUTSHELL ON THE LPGA

19 events played, 18 cuts made, $1,395,909, two victories, nine additional top-10 finishes

 

KORDA’S PREVIOUS TAIWAN SWINGING SKIRTS LPGA RESULTS

2018 – WIN; 2017 – T17

 

CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE – SCORE 1 FOR ST. JUDE

The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group will donate $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2019, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

 

There have been 31 aces made this season and a total of $620,000 donated thus far to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This more than covers the average cost of $425,000 needed to treat a pediatric cancer patient.

LEADERS TOP 10 COMPETITION

The LEADERS Top 10 competition awards a $100,000 bonus to the LPGA player with the most top-10 finishes through the completion of the TOTO Japan Classic. In the event of a tie in total top-10 finishes, the award will go to the player with the most official wins, followed by most second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc., until the tie is broken.

 

With her tie for ninth at the BMW Ladies Championship, Jin Young Ko clinched the LEADERS Top 10 Competition with 12 top-10 finishes. Brooke Henderson collected her 12th top-10 finish of the season on Sunday at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, but with Henderson sitting out the TOTO Japan Classic next week Jin Young Ko wins the tie-break scenario. Nelly Korda and Hyo Joo Kim are now tied for third with 11 top-10s.

 AON RISK REWARD CHALLENGE UPDATED SCENARIOS

The season-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge highlight's the world's best professional golfers as they tackle the most strategically challenging holes across both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR schedules. Players will take their best two scores from each Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, with the winners having the best average score to par at the end of the regular season. The player from each Tour on top of the Aon leaderboard at the end of the regular season will receive a $1 million prize.

 

Heading into the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, only three players have a chance to catch Carlota Ciganda who leads the standings at -0.841 and is not playing the final two qualifying events. Ariya Jutanugarn who is in second at -0.800, In-Kyung Kim who is in third at -0.750 and Hyo Joo Kim who is seventh at -0.706, all three are in the field at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA and the TOTO Japan Classic.

 

The designated Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA is the par-4 8th. This hole has multiple teeing areas and presents a wonderful risk-reward opportunity for the player, depending on yardage for the day. It will be set up from the forward tee at just 255 yards for at least two of the four rounds. Two long bunkers guard the left side of the fairway, close to the landing area, while another bunker (short and right of the green) lies in wait for a poorly struck second shot.

 

Here's how the three players in contention fared this week:

 

Player

Rd. 1 (339 yds)

Rd. 2 (344 yds)

Rd. 3 (241 yds)

Rd. 4 (243 yds)

Ariya Jutanugarn

par

par

eagle

par

In-Kyung Kim

par

birdie

par

par

Hyo Joo Kim

birdie

par

par

par

 

For more information about the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, visit www.lpga.com/statistics/aon-risk-reward-challenge.

 

RACE TO THE CME GLOBE NEARING THE FINISH LINE

Heading into the 30th week of the 2019 Race to the GME Globe, four-time winner Jin Young Ko leads the standings with 4,148 points. Two-time 2019 winner Brooke Henderson is second with 2,772 points, followed by Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Jeongeun Lee6 with 2,652 points.

 

The 2019 season brings a fresh face to the Race to the CME Globe. LPGA Members will accumulate points at each official LPGA Tour event leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top 60 points earners and ties will then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship, with the entire field competing for the $5 million purse and the $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.

 

With a T23 finish at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, Anna Nordqvist is projected to squeak inside the top 60 in the Race to the CME Globe standings, going from 63rd to 59th. With a T8 finish, In-Kyung Kim inched closer to the 60th spot and is projected to move from 71st to 65th. A T11 finish moves Charley Hull closer to safety as she’s projected to move from 56th to 49th. Nordqvist, Kim and Hull are also in the field at the TOTO Japan Classic.

 

Players must finish in the top 40 and ties at the TOTO Japan Classic to earn Race to the CME Globe points

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