Korda chases five in a row at first women’s major of 2024

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Korda chases five in a row at first women’s major of 2024

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The United States is enthusiastic about women’s sports, although the fascination has not yet extended to female golf stars, despite the extraordinary achievements of Nelly Korda.

That could change somewhat if the 25-year-old world number one wins her fifth straight victory and second major title this week. If she were successful at the Chevron Championship here in Texas, she would emulate the great Nancy Lopez in 1978.

Korda is the first American to win four consecutive LPGA tournaments since Lopez won five in a row 46 years ago. This astonishing sequence made the rookie cover story of the era for Sports Illustrated.

Lopez’s run began at the Greater Baltimore Classic and included a major title at the LPGA Championship.

Right now, the headlines are dominated by basketball player Caitlin Clark, the number one pick in the recent WNBA draft after her stellar college career with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

His performances attracted massive television audiences – 18.9 million – twice the number of people who saw Scottie Scheffler win the Masters last Sunday. At 9.6 million, they represent a worrying drop of 20% compared to the previous year.

Korda’s exploits have yet to transcend the golf village, and perhaps that suits her as she “tries to stay in my bubble.” But the American Solheim Cup player acknowledges that more could be done to tell the increasingly fascinating story of women’s golf.

“I feel like we just need a stage,” she told reporters here in Carlton Woods, just north of Houston. “We have to go on TV.

“I feel like when there’s a tape delay, or something like that, it hurts our game. Women’s sports just needs a stage. If we have a stage, we can present, perform and show people what we are.”

Korda has beaten every golfer she has faced on the LPGA Tour since the Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club in late January.

There was a seven-week break in this period, but she returned to win at Palos Verdes in California, the Ford Championship in Arizona and then the Match Play in Las Vegas.

Last week was a week off. She says she has never felt so tired and as she headed to the beaches of Florida, Scheffler – an equally dominant figure in men’s soccer – was heading towards his Masters triumph.

The levels of expectation that accompanied the Augusta winner are similar to those surrounding Korda this week. “My God, I don’t think anyone could ever say anything bad about Scottie,” Korda told me.

“I love his morals, I love his attitude. I love the way he goes about his business. He inspires so many people around him, including myself.

“As he said, he wants to win every tournament he participates in. That’s the case with all the girls who participate here as well.

“I think you just have to go about your business. You can get lost in the articles, you can get lost in the expectations, but I think if you stick to your true self, I feel like you can living in your own bubble and enjoying it is much more.”

Korda realizes this is a special moment. But the women’s PGA champion from three years ago is still waiting for that second major title. It’s probably just around the corner.

“In 2021 I ran, and then in 2022 and 2023 golf really humbled me,” she said.

“There are ups and downs. Every athlete goes through a roller coaster, and that’s what makes this sport so great. You mature and grow so much and you learn more about yourself.

“You never take these weeks for granted. You always try to appreciate them and become very grateful for them.

“It’s definitely worth the hard work. But I think I learned a lot about myself, even through the defeats.”

Korda will likely consult her distance book this week for more than distance advice, as she has written important motivational messages that resulted in a quartet of victories in this extraordinary race.

“They’re private,” she teased. “Those are the ones that (coach) Jamie Mulligan made me put there.

“Actually, the first week I had it was at Bradenton, the distance book. I look at those sayings – there’s four in there, and I look at those sayings almost every hole.”

Here she will have to beat a leading peloton including Lilia Vu, for whom this title was one of the two major successes last year. Korda, who is above Vu at the top of the world rankings, was a finalist 12 months ago so knows she can play well on this course.

Britain’s top hope is Charley Hull, who finished second to Vu at last year’s AIG Women’s Open, but the Englishwoman, ranked seventh in the world, could be hampered by a freak right ankle injury suffered then that she was throwing a ball for her dog.

Farnham’s Lottie Woad is also in the field, fresh from winning the prestigious Augusta National Women’s Amateur title on the eve of Masters week.

But the next few days will be about how Korda performs. Success would be a significant boost in the bid to popularize women’s football.

Its objectives seem to be based on solid foundations. She said she intended to “enjoy every second”, adding: “Careers go by so quickly and there are so many ups and downs.

“Just be grateful for all of this and very humble.”

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