SIOUX FALLS, S.D., September 4, 2016 – Nelly Korda (Bradenton, Fla.) shot a final round 66 to cruise to a three shot victory at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge. The win is the first of Korda’s professional career and moves her from 27th into 11th on the Volvik Race for the Card Money List with five events remaining on the Symetra Tour schedule.
“I don’t even have words,” Korda said. “Having my first professional win out here is just amazing. The atmosphere today was just amazing. I could not have asked for a better day and a better week.”
Korda started her day with birdies on three of her first five holes to jump into a share of the lead. The highlight of the birdie run was a chip-in from 25 feet on the par-4 third.
“With the chip in it was kind of an awkward stance,” Korda explained. “It was downwind and downhill and it was a very delicate shot and I just told myself ‘you’ve had this putt a couple of times you know how it turns – just execute it. Pick your target, hit it and move on.’ I was just going for a par and then it rolled in. it was definitely a big boost.”
From there, Korda was able to play even par golf for the next eight holes before birdies on the par-5 14th and the par-4 15th moved her to 14-under and put the tournament out of reach.
“I putted really well,” Korda said. “Every aspect of my game was really good. If I hit a couple of loose shots I knew I could get up-and-down. I was really comfortable with my short game and my putting. Everything really clicked this week and I’m really happy about that.”
The 18-year-old walked to the tee on the 18th with a four shot lead and victory in her sight but didn’t let it sink in until she made the walk to the green on the 72nd hole.
“I think once I hit my approach shot into the green I got a little bit emotional walking up but I told myself come home safe, make this par and then you can celebrate after.”
There won’t be much time for celebrating as Korda will be driving with her fellow pros to Garden City, Kansas in the morning for the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes.
“I think I’ll celebrate when I get home in three weeks when I get home from Garden City,” Korda said. “That’s when I’ll be with my entire family and you know on Monday I’m already in the zone again towards the next tournament so just going to take it week by week and when I get home that’s when I’ll celebrate.”
The $31,500 first place check and jump up the Volvik Race for the Card Money List will get Korda one step closer to her dream of joining her sister Jessica on the LPGA Tour.
“I mean it’s been my dream ever since I competed in the U.S. Open at 14,” Korda said. “Just being with her and alongside her has always been a really big dream of mine and hopefully I can fulfill that dream by getting my LPGA Tour Card but I’m just going to take it a step at a time and not really think about that and just enjoy my time out here.”
Wicahnee Meechai finished second at 11-under par and jumped from 11th to fourth on the Volvik Race for the Card Money List, while Ally McDonald and Madelene Sagstrom finished tied for third at 9-under.
Original story & photo courtesy of Symetra Tour