Jessica Korda wins Bahamas LPGA Classic
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Jessica Korda laughed about her winning up-and-down and being sprayed with shaving cream. She choked up, too, thinking about her cancer-stricken coach.
The 20-year-old Korda won the season-opening Bahamas LPGA Classic on Sunday for her second tour title, holing a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to beat Stacy Lewis by a stroke.
Korda recently started working again with Grant Price after struggling with a swing she felt led to left shoulder and wrist injuries.
“Grant means so much to me,” Korda said. “He’s so positive, and that’s really kind of shown. It’s given me a lot of confidence this week. His positivity, and he’s like, ‘You’re going to be ready for this week. You’re going to be ready for this week.’ ... Him being on the range and constantly kind of encouraging the positive in me, into my mind, it helped me so much.”
Price, Hall of Famer Nick Price’s nephew, is fighting testicular cancer.
“I’ve known Grant since I was 15 years old, so I know how it is and what’s going on,” Korda said. “But first thing I did, and I asked him, I was like, ’Can you help me? And if you can’t, it’s completely OK. Like, ‘If you don’t feel up to it, then it’s fine.’ Like, ‘I don’t mind, but I need to know if you’re going to be OK first.’ And that’s how every practice started.”
Korda closed with a 7-under 66 for a 19-under 273 total at Atlantis Resort’s Ocean Club.
The third-ranked Lewis parred the final four holes — two of them par 5s — for a 66.
“I only birdied the 18th hole once this week and that made the difference,” Lewis said. “Three of the four days I went over the green to the same place, so obviously that wasn’t the place to be. But you are not doing a lot wrong if you a finish second. And that’s what I’ll take away from this week.”
Korda tied Lewis for the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th, then got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 18th. Korda’s 4-iron approach on 18 scampered through the green and up against the grandstand. She took relief from the grandstand and, with an official and a TV announcer holding up cords that would have interfered with her stroke, putted under the wires to set up the winning birdie.
“That was different,” Korda said. “It was like jump rope. ... It was like Double Dutch. I was jumping over wires with people holding onto them. It was really funny.”
She passed on a drop that would have moved her away from the cables.
“It wasn’t a hard decision at all,” Korda said. “I felt I had a good lie there. It looked too difficult on either side, so I just stayed right where I was. I remember when I had the pleasure of playing with Jack Nicklaus, he told me a bad putt is always better than a bad chip.”
After the winning putt, she was sprayed with shaving cream — courtesy of tournament sponsor Pure Silk.
“I smell really good. It smells really good,” said Korda, whose father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open tennis tournament and mother, Regina Raichrtova, also played pro tennis.
Korda earned $195,000 and is projected to jump from 40th to 26th in the world ranking. She also won the 2012 Women’s Australian Open in the first event of the season.
“It’s unbelievable,” Korda said. “I don’t know, maybe I pay attention more to detail, and I’m more relaxed out here. But whatever it is, I need to figure it out and do it more often.”
Lewis birdied six of the first eight holes, then dropped a stroke on the par-4 ninth. She birdied the par-5 11th and par-4 14th to reach 18 under, but closed with four straight pars. On 18, her flop shot came up short and her 15-foot birdie try stopped inches from the cup.
“It’s very frustrating,” Lewis said. “The 18th hole has gotten me the last couple tournaments.”
Paula Creamer, paired with Korda all four days, had a 69 to tie for third with Na Yeon Choi, Lizette Salas and Pornanong Phatlum at 16 under. Phatlum finished with a 67, Salas had a 71, and Choi shot 72.
Lydia Ko, the 16-year-old New Zealander making her first start as an LPGA Tour member, had a 68 to tie for seventh at 15 under. She won the Canadian Women’s Open the last two years as an amateur.