Nelly Korda wins first major of season – and fifth successive LPGA Tour event

Nelly Korda celebrates with the trophy
Nelly Korda with the trophy - Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

Nelly Korda swept her remarkably graceful and omnipotent way to the Chevron Championship title on Sunday night, the first female major of the season, and so carved herself another piece of history.

This was the American’s fifth LPGA Tour victory in succession, equalling the runs of Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez.

Korda fully deserves her name to be placed beside these recent legends and goodness knows how far the 25-year-old can extend her streak after this two-stroke win over Sweden’s Maya Stark.

The scale of victory makes it sound far closer than it was. In truth, this was ultimately a comfortable triumph after an astonishing charge earlier in the day. Korda birdied the last for a 69 and a 13-under total but then revealed the levels of her anxiety.

“I can finally breathe now,” Korda said after a round featuring five birdies and two bogeys.  “It was a grind on the back nine, I was sick to my stomach, but I got there. The nerves set in - but it’s a major, it’s everything I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. The key is the simplicity and just to do it a shot at time. Maybe sometimes golf can get over complicated.”

Korda has gone where even Scottie Scheffler has not dared. While her male counterpart at the top of the world rankings, prevailed at the Masters the Sunday previous after three wins in four starts, Korda made it a perfect quintet with a performance that was characterised by audacity and resilience.

Like Scheffler, this was only Korda’s second major. And like Scheffler, the game of golf is wondering how Korda only has a brace on her CV. Expect more.

Korda’s swing is the Mona Lisa of golf, a multi-layered action of simplistic beauty. There is a reason that a wonderful headline writer a couple of years ago felt inspired to coin her “Nelly The Elegant”. That was during Korda’s first rise to the summit of the rankings.

The daughter of Petr Korda, the former grand slam champion, and Regina Rajchrtová, another pro tennis player, and the sister of Jess, herself a garlanded golfer, and Seb, a quarter-finalist at last year’s Australian Open, Korda swept to the scene and threatened to take complete control with that seemingly magical mix of artistry and audacity.

She was plagued by back issues in the last few years, a consequence of the torque in her swing. Korda is not the first to suffer pain in her lower back and it has served as a confirmation that what may look pleasing to the eye, is not always kindly on the spine.  She has refined her set-up and on the evidence of 2024 so far, is back to her very best.

Nelly Korda of the United States jumps into the water after winning The Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods on April 21, 2024 in The Woodlands, Texas
Korda celebrated with a dip in the water at the Club at Carlton Woods - Getty Images/Andy Lyons
Nelly Korda of the United States jumps into the water after winning The Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods on April 21, 2024 in The Woodlands, Texas
Going, going, going... - Getty Images/Andy Lyons
Nelly Korda jumps into the lake after winning the Chevron Championship LPGA golf tournament Sunday, April 21, 2024, at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas
Gone... - AP Photo/David J. Phillip

This was a four-day masterclass. She was always in and around the lead until the final day started with the leaders required to play 25 holes because of the Saturday thunderstorms which curtailed play. Plar resumed just after sunlight and so Korda turned up the heat. She parred in on for her remaining third-round holes and after a brief break for the field to re-pair, Korda embarked on a tournament-winning tear.

She played the first 10 holes of the final round in four under to cast herself clear and granted herself the luxury of a wobbly spell to ensure it would be a nervy finish. Korda’s victory was basically assured by a brilliant approach to the 17th. Stark made it difficult, birdieing the last two to post her own 69 for 11-under. Another American in Lauren Coughlin and Canadian Brooke Henderson finished in a tie for third on 10-under.

For Britain, Lottie Woad, the 20-year-old from Surrey who won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur two weeks ago, finished alongside compatriots Georgia Hall and Charley Hull in a tie for 23rd.

This was Woad’s major debut and further highlighted her talent. Woad’s final-round 74 was the worst of her week – after a 71-69-73 beginning – but the Florida State University can feel nothing but pride with her one-under total. She is qualified for the US Women’s Open and Women’s Open at St Andrews in August and has the potential to make a huge splash in the professional game.