Nelly Korda Wins Olympic Gold in Tokyo
by Christina Lance
Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan – With a 4-foot par putt on the 72nd hole, Nelly Korda claimed Olympic Gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games and earned the top step on the medal podium at Kasumigaseki Country Club. She survived 72 holes of blistering heat, one hour of storm delay and 59 world-class competitors to take the title of Olympic Champion, surrounded on the final green by her sister Jessica Korda and fellow Team USA compatriots Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson.
“It was very stressful, but I kept it together. I fought pretty hard,” said an elated Korda, the gold medal draped around her neck.
Korda finished at -17 overall after a fourth-round 69, finishing one stroke clear of Japan’s Mone Inami and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko. Inami took the silver medal after parring the first playoff hole, with Ko, the 2016 silver medalist, earning bronze.
With the win, Korda earned her fourth women’s professional victory of 2021, joining her LPGA Tour victories at the Gainbridge LPGA, the Meijer LPGA Classic and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She also cemented her position as World No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and became the only person in her athletically blessed family to win an Olympic medal. Jessica and Nelly are the daughters of Czech tennis stars Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtová, and their younger brother Sebastian Korda is a rising professional tennis player.
“This is just kind of like almost legend status that you would get on just as a golfer period, male or female,” said Jessica of Nelly, five years her junior. “This is just a dream season to have. I hope that it keeps continuing because it's so much fun to watch it.”
Korda had started the day with a three-stroke lead over India’s Aditi Ashok and looked steady through the first six holes. But after missing the green left at the par-3 seventh hole, she twice failed to chip onto the green, with the ball trickling back down to her feet. She ultimately two-putted for double bogey and gave away her entire advantage.
Ever the fighter, Korda birdied the next three holes to reclaim her lead ahead of a surging Inami and Ko.
“Lydia was playing really well, so was Mone, they both played super well, so we were all bunched up there,” she said. “It was very stressful, but I kept it together. I fought pretty hard.”
Play was delayed for one hour due to storms, with the final two groups still to finish the last two holes. Thankfully big sister Jessica, who had finished her final-round 64 an hour earlier, was around to keep little sister Nelly company – and to keep her mind off the impending challenge.
“We were relaxing, kind of chit chatting on the ground, in the clubhouse,” said Korda. “I think that really helped a lot just to kind of not think about it and just to kind of take a step away in a sense during that rain delay and have some fun.”
Right out of the rain delay and one group ahead of Korda, Inami drained a 13-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead heading to No. 18. But after finding the front greenside bunker with her approach at 18, Inami two-putted for bogey to again give Korda a solo lead.
And with one short putt, Korda joined the great Inbee Park, the 2016 gold medalist, as an Olympic Champion.
Jessica Korda shot a fourth-round 64 to finish tied for 15th at -9 overall. Kang ended her Olympics debut at -7 and tied for 20th, while Thompson’s second Olympics experience finished at -3 and solo 33rd.
Full scores can be found at https://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-womens-leaderboard.