Korda on cusp of sporting superstardom with LPGA win streak

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Korda on cusp of sporting superstardom with LPGA win streak

Five LPGA Tour wins in her last five starts – the latest of which secured a second major title; Nelly Korda is the dominant force in women’s golf right now… but is this just the start of her ascent to sporting superstardom?

The 25-year-old tied Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-05) for the most consecutive LPGA wins with victory at The Chevron Championship on Sunday, but a sixth would make history.

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Could even Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour tally of seven wins spanning 2006-07 be in Korda’s sights?

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Highlights from day four of The Chevron Championship in Texas

“I wouldn’t put it past her to win a sixth on the bounce,” English professional golfer Trish Johnson told Sky Sports.

“I can’t see anyone touching her for quite a while if she keeps going on this trajectory she’s on.”

Korda’s rich sporting heritage sparks golfing beginnings

Korda’s sporting prowess should not come as too great a surprise when considering her lineage.

Petr Korda celebrates his Australian Open men's singles title in 1998

Image: Petr Korda celebrates his Australian Open men’s singles title in 1998

Her father, Petr Korda, was a former tennis player from the Czech Republic, who won the Australian Open in 1998, suffered a quarter-final exit to a certain Tim Henman at Wimbledon that same year and was runner-up at the French Open in 1992.

Her mother, Regina Rajchrtova, also a Czech tennis pro, reached a world-ranking career-high of 26 in 1991 but retired two years later at the age of 24 with the birth of their eldest daughter Jessica in Florida, who paved the path for Nelly into the world of golf.

Image: Nelly Korda (R) and Jessica Korda (L) are the first sisters to have played together at the Solheim Cup

Jessica, older by five years, turned professional in 2010, with Nelly following suit in 2016. The pair became the first sisters to be partnered together at the Solheim Cup in 2019, going the week undefeated and winning the two foursomes matches for which they specifically teamed up.

But despite the sisters’ best efforts, the USA would lose the Solheim Cup to Europe that year, and again in 2021 as, this time, the siblings would lose their only match when paired together. Jessica was pregnant and so missed out as Europe once more retained the trophy last year.

Sebastian Korda of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Hubert Hurkacz of Poland during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Image: Sebastian Korda is the world No 26 in men’s tennis

The Korda’s younger brother, 22-year-old Sebastian, has, meanwhile, turned his hand to tennis. A Junior Boys champion at the 2018 Australian Open, the current world No 26 had his best Grand Slam run as a pro when reaching the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year.

What has prompted Korda’s remarkable run in 2024?

Korda claimed her first win on tour at the Taiwan Championship in 2018, while 2021 was truly her breakout season as she secured four LPGA titles, including a first major success at the Women’s PGA Championship.

That victory, by three strokes over Lizette Salas at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia, catapulted Korda to world No 1 for the first time and, just a mere two months later, she won gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Nelly Korda celebrates winning golf gold for the USA at the Tokyo Olympics (AP)

Image: Nelly Korda celebrates winning golf gold for the USA at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

Her progress was hampered, however, by the revelation of a blood clot in her arm in March 2022 that would see her miss out on that year’s Chevron Championship, while persistent back problems also limited Korda’s success on tour to just one victory in over two years prior to her sudden win streak to kick-start 2024.

But her recent run is far from a fluke. Following the first of her victories at the LPGA Drive On Championship, when squeezing over the line in a play-off with Lydia Ko after bogeying her final two holes, Korda opted to take the next seven weeks off to dedicate herself to a new fitness regime.

“That was an aspect that I really wanted to work on and it’s been paying off quite well,” Korda has said of her self-imposed break.

“I don’t want to train like a golfer, I want to train like an athlete. Thankfully my team and I, we all have the same outlook on it.”

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Korda hit this lovely chip-in birdie at the 10th during The Chevron Championship

Johnson has also noticed a change in demeanour from Korda. “She’s matured as a person,” she said.

“Her press conferences are very different to how they were a year ago, where it was very monosyllabic, answer a question and not really give much to the interviewer.

“She just looks so much more comfortable in her own skin, gives an awful lot more and has way more fun about her.”

Nelly Korda poses with the trophy after winning the Chevron Championship LPGA golf tournament Sunday, April 21, 2024, at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Image: Korda poses with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship

Testament to that were Korda’s comments after her Chevron win at the weekend, as well as her taking part in the traditional champion’s dive into the pond at the 18th hole.

“I can finally breathe now,” she said after clinching her second major win. “That back nine felt like the longest back nine of my entire life.

“I can just enjoy the moment now because I was definitely a little nervous – I feel sick to my stomach!”

Comparisons to Scheffler and an icon to match Tiger?

Korda is not the only American world No 1 dominating the golfing landscape at the moment, with Scottie Scheffler enjoying eerily similar success in the men’s arena to start 2024.

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After winning in four of his last five starts, Scottie Scheffler was asked about Korda’s five straight wins on the LPGA Tour and suggested her achievements are more impressive than his own

Scheffler, just two years Korda’s senior at 27, too bagged the first major championship of the year, and second of his career, at The Masters earlier this month, following that up with another dominant victory at the RBC Heritage this past week – his fourth PGA Tour win in five starts.

“One of the people here asked me, is this turning into a competition between you and Nelly,” Scheffler told reporters after clinching his weather-delayed win on Monday. “I don’t know, I think if it’s a competition she’s got me pretty beat right now.”

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Scheffler and caddie Ted Scott had a moment to forget just seconds after winning the RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour as Scott went for a spectacular chest bump

It is hard to argue with Scheffler’s sentiment, even if said slightly with tongue in cheek, as he is no doubt all too aware of the magic touch he currently possesses around the golf course.

Given the divide in the men’s game right now with the arrival of LIV Golf the last two years, Scheffler is not regularly and repeatedly being tested by the best of his peers, while the same certainly cannot be said of Korda – albeit defending champion, and world No 2, Lilia Vu was missing from The Chevron Championship field having pulled out just prior to her tee time with a back injury.

Korda’s streak has also spanned different formats, with the fourth of her wins at the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas involving a mid-tournament switch from stroke play to match play. No bother, as she defeated Angel Yin 3&2, Na Rin An 4&3 and Leona Maguire 4&3 through the knockout stages to lift the title.

That is to take nothing away from Scheffler’s remarkable run of his own. “It’s pretty impressive everything he’s done this year,” Butch Harmon told Sky Sports following his second triumph at Augusta National.

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Watch the story of Scheffler’s final round as he claimed a second green jacket at Augusta with a four-under-par 68, his second Masters win in the last three years

Asked if Scheffler could end up replicating Tiger Woods’ spell of dominance, Harmon added: “He’s got to do it for 19 more years [to match Woods], but right now who says he can’t?”

And it is not just Scheffler who is drawing comparisons to Tiger.

Such was the ease at which Korda cruised to the third of her five-straight victories at the Ford Championship last month, after a final-round 65, her swing coach Jamie Mulligan was prompted to proclaim: “That’s what it looked like when he [Tiger] won.

“It looked like he played better than everyone else. She might have the best motion in the game… she’s an athlete making a hard game look easy.”

Both Korda and Scheffler have some way to go to match Tiger’s 15 major championship wins, but Korda is creeping up on his PGA Tour win streak of seven, though with Byron Nelson’s all-time men’s record of 11 set in 1945 likely out of reach.

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Tiger Woods made history at The Masters by making an incredible 24th consecutive cut at the tournament. Watch the best of his second round

But would such dominance by one player be good for the women’s game? “I’d love to see her dominate golf,” Johnson opined. “And the reason I want to see that is because I think that elevates everybody else.

“When you get that dominant player, like Tiger, everybody else looks at it and thinks, ‘I’ve got to up my game, otherwise she’s just going to win everything’.”

Tiger, no doubt, took golf to new levels in the early 2000s… could Korda possibly do the same for the women’s game?

With more and more people taking note with every win, she is well on the road to sporting superstardom, it is just a case of whether we can all keep up.

What’s next?

Watch coverage of the final two rounds of the LPGA’s JM Eagle LA Championship this weekend, live on Sky Sports Golf from 11pm on Saturday and Sunday evening, although Korda will not be making it six consecutive wins just yet as she has withdrawn from the tournament.

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