Jessica Korda nailed down her third LPGA victory Sunday afternoon at the Airbus LPGA Classic Presented by JTBC by outlasting and, on the 18th hole, outshooting a very crowded group of contenders for the top of the board. The final round at the Airbus Classic was everything that Babe Didrikson Zaharias’s husband George would have wanted in the way of crowd-pleasing drama and showmanship; and the gasps and sighs from the gallery following the last two groups in the field signaled their deep appreciation for the demonstration of skill and endurance put on by Korda, Anna Nordqvist, Michelle Wie, Charley Hull, and Jenny Shin as they battled their way through the final 18 holes of the Airbus Classic.
It was a tight, 18-hole contest for the top of the board. At one point in the final round there was a six-way tie for the lead. But one-by-one the challengers dropped a shot here or there. Korda, paired with Hull and Wie and playing in the next-to-last group, finally took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 16th hole and wrapped it up with a another birdie on the par-4 18th, putting her at 20 strokes under par and simply not reachable by anyone in the final group, Catriona Matthew, Anna Nordqvist, and Stacy Lewis.
Korda’s previous wins came at the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and the 2014 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. In addition to the $195K winner’s share of the purse, Korda also collected 500 points in the year-long Race to the CME Globe and jumped from 12th to 6th place in that competition, behind Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Karrie Webb and Lydia Ko.
The Mobile Bay victory will also move Korda, who carded 4 stunning rounds of 67, 67, 69 & 65, from 26th to 16th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and put her in 8th place on the 2014 LPGA Official Money List.
Inside the Top-10
Anna Nordqvist finished the Airbus Classic at -19 one stroke behind Korda, and Michelle Wie, Charley Hull and Catriona Matthew came in at -18. They’d all been in contention for the victory throughout the final round.
Jenny Shin finished at -17 and Lexi Thompson, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Eun-Hee Ji at -16. Thompson played heroically, taking herself from her 15th place starting position to a tied 7th place finish.
Coming into the day I knew I had to make tons of birdies and just fire at all the pins.. . . I played really solid and just had a lot more fun out there today.
Brittany Lincicome, Belen Mozo, So Yeon Ryu and Stacy Lewis all finished at -15 and sharing 10th place on the board. It was probably a happier finish for Rolex Ranked no. 180 Mozo — her first top-10 this year — than for Lewis.
The Tour moves now to Galloway, New Jersey for the 26th edition of the 54-hole Shoprite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer May 30-June 1. I’ll provide a preview of the event Tuesday and a look at the field on Wednesday.