Nelly Korda becomes the latest family member to claim an Australian Open title
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ADELAIDE, Australia — The scissor-kick was familiar. Joining her father, Petr, her brother, Sebastian, and her older sister, Jessica, Nelly Korda can call herself an Australian Open champion. Dad and little brother won their titles at tennis (1998 and 2018); the sisters on the golf course (Jessica winning in 2012).
More specifically, 20-year-old Nelly completed the family Grand Slam with a final-round 67 on the West Course at The Grange Golf Club to clinch a two-shot victory over defending champion Jin-Young Ko of South Korea. It was Korda’s second LPGA victory, only five months from her first, the 2018 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
This one was special though. On the eve of the event, the rising American talent had spoken with no little frustration of her desire to emulate the feats of her nearest and dearest. “I have yet to figure out how to play in Australia, to be honest,” she said. “Last year, I think I was in every bunker. The courses are a bit different out here. So I'm going to take some time this week to prepare.”
Clearly, she did it well. En route to her winning total of 17-under 271, Korda made a remarkable 28 birdies. Only Angel Kim in fourth place came close to that total with 26.
“I think there’s something in the air here in Australia,” Korda said with a smile. “I’m just happy to finally be a part of the club. I kind of felt left out. But I was playing all day for my parents, and I’m really proud of that.”
Still, this latest victory for the middle-child in this remarkable family should come as no surprise. Last year the world No. 16 missed only four cuts in 22 starts, picked up more than $1 million in prize money, achieved that maiden victory and established herself as a strong contender for the U.S. Solheim Cup side that will defend the trophy against the Europeans at Gleneagles in Scotland this September.
Making the team would, however, make Nelly only the second Korda to appear in the biennial contest. Sister Jessica was part of the first American side to lose on home soil in 2013 and qualified again in 2017, before injury forced her to withdraw.
For all that high level of success, Korda’s stated aim for the months ahead is “greater consistency.”
“When the tournaments are coming thick and fast,” she says, “it’s easy to get a bit fatigued. So my Dad and I have been looking at my scheduling for the coming months. I’m not going to play any more than four in a row this year. That’s my maximum. Asia is especially tough for me. I find it tough to stay strong mentally after three weeks of that sort of schedule. It’s tough to feel 100 percent when you are tired, and that can lead to more injuries. I can tell when I’m tired though. My shots tend to start going all over.”
They didn’t do much of that in Adelaide, not during a final round where she started with a three-shot edge and saw it grow as large as six by the 12th, the result of five birdies in a six-hole run. Thereafter, only Ko—whose closing 64 was the low round of the week—came close to making a realistic challenge. Indeed, when Ko made her eight and final birdie on the 18th green, there was a moment of doubt as Korda dropped a shot at the 15th.
Only a moment though. Korda’s birdie at the penultimate hole—where she holed from 15 feet—restored the two-shot lead she maintained with a par on the last.