Nelly Korda claims first major & No. 1 ranking

Nelly Korda broke through for her first major title and raised the trophy at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Korda finished 19 under, three strokes ahead of Lizette Salas, after a 4-under 68 in her final round. Korda, 22, will jump to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings following the biggest victory of her career thus far.

Korda’s final round was buoyed by a pair of eagles on the par-5 fifth and 12th holes, giving her a sizeable advantage on playing partner Salas. A double bogey on No. 15 wasn’t enough to derail Korda off the track to her first title.

“I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy,” Korda said. “I had to remind myself to breathe a lot. But thankfully I have such a great caddie. Jason (McDede) helped me calm down. I hit it into the water on 15, and I was pretty upset there, but he pretty much punched me and was like, ‘Come on, bud, why are you so down?’”

Nelly Korda On Roll To No. 1

Korda nabbed her second straight win on the heels of last week’s win at the Meijer LPGA Classic. It marks her sixth career victory on tour. Her previous best finish at a major was a tie for second at the 2020 ANA Inspiration.

Korda’s biggest highlight was her second shot on No. 5, where her 7-wood not only reached the green in two but came a few feet shy of going in for an albatross. The tap-in eagle put her ahead of Salas for good.

“It honestly never left the flag,” Korda said. “Right as I hit it, I was like, ‘Be good.’ … When you have that short of a putt, it makes everything so much easier and takes so much more stress off of you. You kind of catapult forward.”

Nelly Korda
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Salas completed a steady week with a 1-under 71 to follow three consecutive rounds of 67. Her Sunday included just two birdies and a bogey amid 15 pars. Salas was the 18-hole leader and shared the third-round lead overnight with Korda.

“I’m extremely proud, and I think my family and my team are extremely proud of me,” Salas said. “Yeah, we came in with a goal, and I think we exceeded it.

“I did what I planned to do. When things weren’t going my way, I still said, ‘I’m okay.’ There’s just a lot going on right now. There’s a lot of emotion. I’m really grateful for being in this position and for fighting until the end.”

Salas finished inside the top two of a major for the second time, including a second-place finish at the 2019 Women’s Open.

After taking the first-round lead, Salas discussed the mental health struggles she battled during the COVID-19 pandemic and the tour’s pause during 2020. On Sunday, she revealed she had considered retiring from golf at one point.

“I think a lot of us take our mental health for granted, and me coming from a Hispanic culture, it’s very hard to talk about it,” she said. “But I just hope that regardless if you’re a pro athlete or a student of any color, shape or form, mental health is important, and you’re not alone. That was the scariest part for me is I felt like I was alone, and now hearing the chants and everyone pulling for me, it was just a magical week, and I’m just really happy.”

Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea (68) and Giulia Molinaro of Italy (72) tied for third at 10 under. Danielle Kang (67) and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit (74), already a major winner this season, finished 8 under for a share of fifth.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)