With proud sister watching from afar, Nelly Korda earns 1st LPGA win

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With proud sister watching from afar, Nelly Korda earns 1st LPGA win

LPGA Tour

With proud sister watching from afar, Nelly Korda earns 1st LPGA win

Jessica Korda wasn’t going to miss this. Half a world away in south Florida, big sister was beamed into Taiwan via FaceTime to see 20-year-old Nelly capture her first victory on the LPGA. When Nelly saw her friends lined up around the 18th green at Ta Shee Golf & Country Club and her sister’s face on the phone, she “lost it.”

“I was on FaceTime with her and she was saying how proud of me she is, and you know, she was crying probably more than me today,” said Nelly. “But it’s a bond, like that you just can’t even think of. She’s definitely my best friend. She’s been there every step of the way. She knows exactly what I’ve gone through this year.”

The Kordas have become the third set of sisters to win on the LPGA, joining Annika (72 wins) and Charlotta Sorenstam (one win) and Ariya (10 wins) and Moryia Jutanguarn (one win). When Moriya won for the first time earlier this year in Los Angeles, it was Ariya who showed the most emotion.

The Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship marked Nelly’s third appearance in the final group on Sunday. She came so close to winning her first title last March in Singapore – until Michelle Wie’s late-round heroics – and Jessica was there to put an arm around Nelly’s shoulder and pick her up.

It has been a tough road for both Kordas this year. Jessica overcame major jaw surgery to collect her fifth career title in Thailand but still struggled for months with pain and numbness in her face, maintaining a liquid diet well into the season.

Nelly meanwhile had her own set of troubles. She began experiencing stomach issues at the season-opening event in the Bahamas and sustained on white bread for all three meals in Singapore. At the San Francisco stop in April, Nelly cramped up so badly she could barely walk and withdrew from the pro-am.

She was soon diagnosed with Clostridium difficile, more commonly known as “C. diff.”

The two sisters know exactly what it took for each to get into the winner’s circle this season, making victory that much sweeter.

“Truthfully, I cannot put it into words. It still hasn’t hit,” said Nelly. “It’s definitely one of the best days of my entire life. I can finally check that off of my list, winning an LPGA event, something that I dreamed of ever since I started playing.”

Nelly, bolstered by an eagle on the par-5 sixth, closed with a 4-under 68 to finish two shots ahead of Minjee Lee at 13-under 275 for the tournament. Wei-Ling Hsu had given the Taiwanese crowds reason to come out in force as she held the 54-hold lead with Nelly.

“When she made a birdie or stuck it close,” said Nelly, “the crowd roars were really loud. I was like, is Tiger Woods playing here?”

Hsu’s closing 74 dropped her to a share of sixth.

Nelly’s became the ninth first-time winner on the LPGA this season, tying 2016 for third most in one year. Only twice has the tour had more maiden victories – the record of 11 in 1995 and 10 in 2005.

Swinging Skirts, a non-profit organization in Taiwan named for the Scottish tradition of wearing kilts, already had a special place in Nelly’s heart. She won her first AJGA title at the Yani Tseng Invitational by the Swinging Skirts.

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