Nelly Korda won the Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday to capture her first major title and become the first American since 2014 to seize the world number one ranking.
The 22-year-old daughter of retired Czech tennis star Petr Korda made two eagles in outdueling compatriot Lizette Salas down the stretch for a three-stroke triumph.
“I’ve put in a lot of work,” Korda said. “And to finally get three wins under my belt this year and a major championship, I don’t even have words, honestly.”
Korda fired a four-under-par 68 to finish 72 holes on 19-under 269 at Atlanta Athletic Club with Salas on 272 after a closing 71.
She will jump from third to first in Monday’s new rankings, overtaking South Korea’s number one Ko Jin-young and second-ranked Park In-bee.
Korda will become the first American atop the rankings since Stacy Lewis in October 2014 and only the third US player atop the list since it began in 2006 after Lewis and Cristie Kerr.
Korda became the first American to win a major women’s golf title since Angela Stafford at the 2018 Evian.
“This is something I’ve worked for since I was 14,” Korda said. “I wanted to win a major since I played in my first one.
“To finally get it done here in Atlanta with such an amazing crowd, it was something special.”
South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo and Italy’s Giulia Molinaro shared a distant third on 278 with Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit and American Danielle Kang sharing fifth on 280.
Korda claimed her third LPGA victory of the year after Boca Rio in February and last week at the LPGA Meijer Classic.
“I had a great week last week and carried the momentum into this week,” Korda said. “I just played really well this week.”
Salas, whose only LPGA victory came in 2014 at Kingsmill, matched her best major showing, a runner-up effort at the 2019 Women’s British Open.
Korda birdied the par-4 third to grab a one-stroke lead over Salas, then hit a 7-wood 243 yards to within inches of the cup for a tap-in eagle at the par-5 fifth to reach 18-under.
Salas opened with a pair of par saves before adding an eight-foot birdie putt at the fifth and a tap-in birdie at six to pull within one of Korda, who was battling nerves.
“I wanted to keep a level head and tell myself there was a lot of golf to be played and take it one shot at a time,” Korda said.
– Turning point at 12th –
The turning point came at the par-5 12th, when Korda dropped her second shot within five feet of the cup and Salas sent her third into a bunker.
Salas blasted out 15 feet beyond the hole and missed her par putt while Korda rolled in her eagle putt to reach 20-under par, the three-shot swing giving Korda a four-stroke edge.
Korda sank a long birdie putt at the 14th to reach 21-under, stretching her lead to five strokes with four holes remaining.
Korda was a threat to break the record for the lowest 72-hole score in women’s major golf history, the 21-under 263 by South Korea’s Chun In-gee at the 2016 Evian Championship.
But after a lengthy wait at the par-3 15th, Korda hit her tee shot into water and went on to make double bogey, ending her run of 49 consecutive holes without a bogey and trimming her lead to three.
Korda responded with three closing pars, the last on a long putt when the victory was secure.