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Not even match play can slow Nelly Korda in her run for four straight wins

April 06, 2024
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Nelly Korda reacts to her chip shot on the 14th hole in her semifinal match against Narin An.

Orlando Ramirez

Not even a format change can stop Nelly Korda's LPGA tour de force. The No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Rankings advanced to the final of the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas after winning her quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Saturday. Korda will play Solheim Cup stalwart Leona Maguire at Shadow Creek on Sunday in attempting to become the first four-in-a-row winner on the LPGA since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

“Match play is a lot of fun and … yeah, I'm excited about the finals tomorrow and excited about the golf that I've been playing because it's been a lot of fun," Korda said.

The LPGA's lone match-play event changed format this year, going from a 64-player round-robin style to bring the field down to 16 to three rounds of stroke play in Las Vegas, bringing the 90-player field down to eight who advance to the weekend's match play.

Korda, who took a seven-week break from the LPGA after winning the Drive On Championship in January, came from two behind on Sunday for her last two victories at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship and Ford Championship to make it three in a row. She delivered a needed come-from-behind round Friday just to get into the match-play bracket. The 25-year-old, in her first appearance in Las Vegas, began the third round in 20th place. Korda climbed the leaderboard with a three-under 69, one of only four rounds in the 60s on a windy day with up to 30 mph gusts, to move into sixth place.

The Bradenton, Fla., native drew Angel Yin as her quarterfinal opponent. Korda defeated her Solheim Cup teammate 3 and 2 on Saturday morning, then dispatched three-year LPGA veteran Na Rin An in the afternoon by winning the first three holes on her way to a 4-and-3 win.

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Orlando Ramirez

"I think this golf course is perfect for match play," Korda said of the highly exclusive Shadow Creek.

While this is Korda's first time playing in the tour's match-play event, it is not the first time she and Maguire have faced off in a match against each other. Maguire is 3-1-0 against Korda in Solheim history, but with a key caveat: They have only played with teammates and not in singles. Maguire, who is from Ireland and played her college golf at Duke, has competed at Shadow Creek twice before this year, including losing in the semifinals in 2023.

"I've got a big challenge ahead of me," Maguire, 29, said. "I'm excited. I mean, that's why you practice. You want to play the best players in the world, and that's what Nelly is."

Only one more round stands in Korda's way for a complete LPGA western sweep before the tour takes a week off ahead of the major Chevron Championship. Korda, however, has played 230 holes over the last three weeks, including a playoff victory in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., on top of drives from Southern California to Arizona to Las Vegas between each of her victories. While excited to go home, the 11-time winner wants to enjoy one last chance to win before a well-earned trip back to Florida.

"I'm just really excited about tomorrow honestly," Korda said. "I'm excited to see my family, excited to go home, and I'm excited to go out and play a really good match tomorrow. That's really what I'm thinking about."