BELLEAIR FL. — Nelly Korda was overcome with emotion. To win the LPGA again and rise to No. This time, the number one player in the world was hit differently. She has seen so much since Lexi Thompson’s last victory to lift a trophy at this year’s Pelican LPGA Champion.
Petr, her father, said that they are just very lucky she is alive.
The blood clot, which required surgery earlier in the year and kept her out of the game for several months, was scary for the entire Korda Family.
Nelly said, “For me the uncertainty of that was most frightening.” As a golfer, I feel like my whole life is in order. I know where I am going next and what I should do next. Or you would hope to. But, just being hit with something like this, and not knowing what I should do or how to proceed, makes it difficult to plan your life.
Korda was the first LPGA player to successfully defend a title this season. She closed with a 64 to finish 14 shots under in the 54-hole event, which was shortened by the weather. She now holds eight LPGA titles and has earned $7,455,977 over her career. She won an LET tournament in Spain earlier in the season.
Korda started the day two strokes behind rookie Allisen Corpsuz. Trois players, Carlota Ciganda and Thompson, held a lead of two strokes throughout the final round.
After the round Thompson spoke to the media, while Megan Khang (and Ally Ewing) soaked Korda with champagne. Thompson lost the round last year due to a series of missed putts. This year’s result felt very different. Thompson recovered from two back-to-back bogeys at Nos. Thompson finished with a 66 and a pair birdies at 11-12. She smiled even though she was one stroke behind.
Thompson said, “I believe that if it would’ve happened in previous years, I would have let it get me,” or even after hitting it in water (on No. 12), I could let that happen to me.
“I was like, all okay, snap out of this. Yes, I know you aren’t happy right now. But getting more upset won’t do me any good.
Thompson will have her older brother Nicholas as her bag carrier at the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon next week. Thompson loves Tiburon and has been a champion there in the past. Thompson and Korda will be teaming up at Tiburon later in the year as the first all female team at the QBE Shootout.
LPGA’s penultimate tournament is not just about who wins. There are tour cards and CME qualification on the line. The season-ending event is only open to 60 players. The winner will receive a record 2 million dollar paycheck. The field did not change after a week of play at Belleair.
Maria Fassi, Day 1 leader, gave it a shot after opening with a career best 62. However, she fell to seventh after bogeys on the final two holes. She needed only a par on her last hole.
Lydia Ko will be attending the CME where she won in 2014. She has a one point lead over Minjee Lee in the Rolex Player Of The Year standings and a substantial lead in Vare Trophy for low scoring.
Ko tied for 26th at Pelican.
She said that she didn’t believe any part of her game was “very sharp this week.” “So I don’t think I ever got off with good momentum.”
Morgane Metraux arrived at Pelican ranked 101st in the CME points ranking. For 2023, the top 100 players will retain their full status. The ex-FL State player rose to this occasion with a remarkable 64. She finished her career with a T-4, a career-best score. This allowed her to keep her card and to avoid Q-Series.
Metraux, a Epson Tour graduate, said, “I was obviously very excited to receive my card last year.” He also stated that he started the year with a great first event, as he had no expectations.
“After that, I just thought about it a bit and thought, “Oh, my god this is the greatest tour in the world; am I truly here?”
There is no doubt about it after today.