Nelly Korda had already risen to the top of the women’s game with a win at the KPMG PGA Championship earlier this summer, but she has fully cemented herself as the best player in the world after capping her stellar season with a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
An hour-long rain delay with just two holes to go in the competition made for a tense waiting period, but Korda gutted out a final round 69 for a one shot win over New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and Japan’s Mone Inami. Inami prevailed in a playoff for the silver medal, leaving Ko with the bronze.
Korda’s win was the 100th medal won by the American team in Tokyo and gave the US a sweep in the Olympic Golf competition after Xander Schauffele captured gold in the men’s event last week.
Korda’s constant look ahead mentality is what keeps her at the top of her game, but it seems like she could be finally taking some time to reflect on her accomplishments this year.
“With sports, it’s so different because you’re constantly looking ahead to your next event,” Korda told Golf Channel. “It never really gets to kind of sink in. But when I do look back, it’s just crazy.”
Korda entered the final round leading by three after a third round that saw her follow up a double bogey 5 at the 7th hole—which eliminated her two-shot lead in one hole— with three straight birdies to retake a three-shot lead.
Korda’s reaction after the final putt dropped was subdued, she gave a subtle wave to the cheering crowd before an awkward fist bump with caddie Jason McDede. But what followed was a special moment when Nelly’s sister Jessica—who shot 64 earlier in the day to finish T15—walked onto the green to share a hug with her sister.
A moment of history for @NellyKorda 🇺🇸
The World #1 is now an Olympic Champion 🥇 pic.twitter.com/RlfZeDveYX
— LPGA (@LPGA) August 7, 2021
Jessica knows how amazing Nelly’s year has been, and she wasted no time telling the media that.
“This is just kind of like almost legend status as a golfer, period, male or female,” Jessica said. “It’s tough to win out here and she makes it look easy, but those girls are good. So for her to be doing what she’s doing, it’s insane to me. This is like total GOAT status to me. To win three times in a season, be world No. 1, going for gold.”
Inami made a good run at the gold, running off five birdies in six holes, including burying an eight-foot putt on 17 to tie the lead. Inami hit her approach shot over the 18th green in the third round, leading to a bogey.
Inami wasn’t making that mistake again with a gold medal on the line, but her second shot came up short and plugged in the face of the bunker guarding the front of the green. She blasted out to 30 feet and made bogey as a final round 65 wasn’t enough.
“I regretted why I did not make a full swing,” Inami said.
Korda finished at 17 under despite two double bogeys on the week. She needed a birdie at 18 on the second round, but Korda and McDede didn’t realize that the tee was moved up 30 yards, leading to a wrong number and a double bogey as Korda signed for 62.
It didn’t cost her in the end, and Jessica is correct, Nelly’s had an historic year and is in position to become one of the best players of all time.