In a day of clutch performances, Jessica Korda’s seven-under 65 ranks with the best of them. Korda capped off an amazing round with a 15-footer for birdie at the last to top a star-studded leaderboard at the Airbus LPGA Classic in Mobile, Alabama.
Korda deserves serious props for leapfrogging the leaders with a six-under 30 on the closing nine, which included birdies on 14, 15, 16, and 18. Perhaps, Korda’s playing partners, Michelle Wie and Charley Hull, helped narrow her focus by getting off to hot starts of their own, “Michelle was out there early making birdies, and I was getting a little frustrated because nothing was falling. I was hitting it close. And then Charley started making birdies and I was like okay, let’s start doing something here. After that…I didn’t have to hit it close and I would make it, and then Michelle would make it and then Charley would make it. And then we would get on the next tee and everybody would be down the center of the fairway. It was very nice to be playing with those two girls.”
The 21-year-old from Bradenton, Florida won the first event of the season in January, the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Korda did not enjoy success after the Bahamas, but spoke about all the work that went into getting back into form, “I’ve been working really hard on my short game. I’ve actually been working with Paul Azinger a lot at home because he’s also from Bradenton, Florida. With his input and Grant [Price’s] input, it just takes a while for it to click. And I put my old driver back into play, and I just felt really comfortable. I love coming back here. This feels very comfortable, I feel very much at home here, and so I wouldn’t say I was expecting to win, but I was definitely expecting to play well.”
Anna Nordqvist was looking for her third win of the season, but hit a road block with a one-over 37 on the front. Nordqvist did her best to charge up the leaderboard with four birdies on the back, but she fell one-stroke short of Korda.
Michelle Wie grabbed the lead after firing a four-under 32 on the front nine, but was unable to carry the momentum to the back. Wie was gracious in defeat after the round, “I knew I needed a low score. I got hot starting on and just didn’t quite get it together on the back nine, but still I shot 5‑under today, and there’s really nothing I can do. I’m just really happy for Korda. I had a lot of fun playing with her, and I knew I needed a low number and I just didn’t hit it low enough.”
Wie finished in a tie for third place with Catriona Mathew and Charley Hull.
Korda is projected to move to sixth place in the season-long Race to the CME Globe. She is also projected to move to sixteenth in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings with her third career win.
Airbus LPGA Classic leaderboard.
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)
(Photo: Mike Kittrell – AL.com)
Quotes are courtesy of LPGA.com.