Catriona Matthew reckons Nelly Korda has potential to dominate women’s game

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Olympic champion Nelly Korda is favourite for the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie (Matt York/AP) (AP)
Olympic champion Nelly Korda is favourite for the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie (Matt York/AP) (AP)

Catriona Matthew believes Nelly Korda is capable of dominating the women’s game as she seeks a second major title of the year in the AIG Women’s Open.

Korda became world number one after winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June and earlier this month threatened to shoot 59 in the second round on her way to winning an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old American has won three times on the LPGA Tour this season and heads into the final major of the year as a strong favourite to lift the title at Carnoustie.

“She’s obviously been very impressive the last few months,” 2009 champion Matthew said. “I think without a doubt she’s got that potential to be dominant.

“She hits it long. Well, to be world number one you have to do everything well. If she can keep that form going, I don’t see why she couldn’t be dominant. I think it is good for women’s golf to have a dominant player.

“You saw how Tiger (Woods) elevated the PGA Tour. If you have someone that becomes dominant, she starts to be known by non-golfers, which then maybe encourages them to come and watch golf. So I think it would be a good thing.”

The AIG Women’s Open is the final qualifying event for September’s Solheim Cup at Inverness Club in Toledo where Matthew will again captain the European side which won the trophy in dramatic fashion at Gleneagles in 2019.

Korda is top of the US rankings and has already secured her place on the team, but Matthew is not too concerned about facing a player who won three and a half points from four matches in a losing cause two years ago.

“For Solheim to have the world number one player it’s a great thing and, in match play, as we’ve seen in a lot of 18-hole events, anyone can beat anyone,” the 51-year-old Scot added.

“Certainly all the pressure will be on her to beat our team. I think on paper the Americans are always the stronger team but 18-holes match play anyone can win, so I’m sure we’ll probably go in as the underdog, especially with it being an away game.

“I think we are going to have a great team, a real mixture of some experienced players and some new, younger exciting players. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Korda declined to give a pre-tournament press conference at Carnoustie but received support for that decision from R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers after he had announced a prize fund increase of USD 1.3million (£940,000) to USD 5.8million (£4.2m).

“I think when you look at some of these players, they have been on the road for weeks and weeks and weeks and I’m pretty certain the world number one, I’ve been assured, will be doing media interviews after her rounds and be able to answer any of the questions that any of you want to talk to her about,” Slumbers said.

“I think for players who have been in various bubbles for Covid reasons for the last five weeks it has been a very, very hard time and I think it’s been a very hard year for anyone who has been on the road.

“What I think is the most important is that Nelly is fully rested and ready to go come tomorrow. I’m sure she’s going to play as well as she’s been playing over the last few months and I hope she does because it’s wonderful to watch.”

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