Nelly Korda would have entered this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as one of the favorites, anyway. But her victory on Sunday at the Meijer LPGA Classic will raise her favorite status to prohibitive for the LPGA Tour’s third major championship of the year, which begins Thursday at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Korda became the LPGA Tour’s first multiple winner of the year with her second victory, a two-stroke triumph over Ireland’s Leona Maguire. With her fifth LPGA Tour win, Korda rose to No. 4 in the world in the Rolex Rankings.
It was quite a turnaround from Korda’s performance in the LPGA’s previous major, the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco, where Korda was one of the favorites, as well. Shockingly, she missed the cut with scores of 78-75 – 153, 11-over par.
"If you told me at the U.S. Open that I was going to shoot 25 under I would be like, `Yeah, right.'" Korda said. "But I did a good bit of work back home. My dad was at every practice, a little boot camp with my dad."
Maguire shot a closing 66 to get within two shots of Korda, a week after a T9 at the LPGA Mediheal Championship, where she was the first-round leader with 65.
“Nelly is a great player and one of the best players in the world for a reason. It was great to be able to test my game against her,” said Maguire, a rookie on the LPGA Tour and an all-American at Duke University. “I'm really starting to feel like I belong out here. Even though it's still my rookie year, I'm feeling more and more comfortable every week.
“My first time in the last group going into the final round, and really proud of how I managed that. You just never know how you're going to react until you're in that situation. Really proud of how I handled it,” said Maguire.
"This week is going to be huge heading into a major," said Maguire, "I knew I was playing some great golf. It's a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season."
The KPMG Women’s PGA is the second straight LPGA major of the year held at a venue best-known for hosting men’s majors. Jerry Pate won the U.S. Open there in 1976, Larry Nelson was the PGA Championship winner in 1981, David Toms won the PGA there in 2001 and Keegan Bradley was the PGA winner in 2011.
There was an LPGA major at Atlanta Athletic Club, Betsy King’s 1990 victory in the U.S. Women’s Open. However, that was held at AAC’s Riverside Course. The KPMG Women’s PGA will be contested over the Highlands Course, where the men’s majors were played.