BELLEAIR — Nelly Korda got down on herself walking off the 17th green Sunday at the Pelican Women’s Championship.
The world’s No. 1-ranked player, who entered the final round of the LPGA Tour event at Pelican Golf Club tied with Lexi Thompson, set herself back with a triple bogey to fall two strokes out of the lead.
Korda’s caddie, Jason McDede, gave her a pep talk.
“I want you to take this one minute and think positive thoughts,” McDede told her as they walked toward the 18th tee. “No negativity.”
Korda went on to sink a 19-foot birdie putt on 18. A second straight bogey from Thompson, one of her playing partners in the final threesome, sent the final round to a four-way playoff with defending champion Sei Young Kim and Lydia Ko.
A 12-foot birdie putt by Korda on the first playoff hole gave her the win, her fourth of the year. She joined Jin Young Ko for the most wins on the tour this year, and the Bradenton native became the winningest American in a season since Stacy Lewis won four times in 2012.
“I almost kind of lost faith,” Korda said of her debacle on 17. “I was like, ‘Okay, time to focus on next week,’ in a sense. I just found myself probably the best putt, putted two times in a row, and it went in really nicely.”
Korda shot 1-under 69, Thompson 69, Kim 67 and Ko 66 as they finished at 17-under 263.
After Ko and Kim parred the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, Korda’s birdie stood up after Thompson’s 6-foot putt rolled long.
“Played a lot of good golf, made a lot of good putts,” said Thompson, “and just wasn’t meant for me in the end.”
Thompson now has gone 38 tournaments since her last tour victory. At the U.S. Women’s Open this year, she lost a five-shot lead on the back nine and finished with two bogeys to miss the playoff by one shot.
Korda secured her spot at No. 1 in the world ranking and moved 12 points ahead of Ko for LPGA player of the year going into the season-ending Tour Championship next weekend in Naples.
“I knew just the way that Nelly is, if she can get an opportunity, she’s going to try to take it,” said Korda’s older sister, Jessica, who shot 67 and tied for 11th at 12 under. “That’s just how she is, and she shows that week in and week out.”
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On the par-4 17th hole, Korda thought she “had no shot” after her ball landed in the rough. Her chip shot rolled down a bunker, and the fourth shot cleared the sand trap but rolled past the flag. Three putts later, she had a triple bogey.
“I just tried to shake it off,” Korda said. “I was pretty upset. There were definitely some R-rated words going through my head, probably out of my mouth, but the nice thing about Jason is that I can kind of vent to him and he kind of takes it, but it’s not directed at him. It’s just I can vent and get it all out, and then I can focus up.”
Korda took home $262,500, adding to her $2,237,157 in season earnings.
“It’s been crazy,” Korda said of her season, which also includes an Olympic gold medal and, she said, has felt like two. “I put in a lot of work, but mentally, being in these positions and playing week in, week out under the pressure definitely takes a toll on you.”
Seminole native Brittany Lincicome (74) finished 6 under, and Tampa resident Brittany Altomare (70) was 3 under.
Another ace for a car
Su Oh aced the par-3 12th hole to become the third player during tournament week to win a two-year lease on a new Lamborghini with a hole-in-one on 12.
“When I hit it, I was like, ‘Oh, my God. Go in the hole,’ " Oh said after her 3-under 67. She finished 3 under.
Oh followed Austin Ernst’s hole-in-one on 12 in a pro-am Monday and Pavarisa Yoktuan in Round Two on Friday.
If the players forgo the two-year lease, they will receive an unspecified cash prize.
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.