Jessica Korda wins LPGA Malaysia for 4th title
KUALA LUMPUR: Jessica Korda won the LPGA Malaysia on Sunday for her fourth tour title, closing with a 6-under 65 in sweltering conditions at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club for a four-stroke victory.
After winning twice last season, the 22-year-old American entered the week with only one top-10 finish this year, a tie for second in January in Florida in the season-opening event.
"I think it was just a long time coming," Korda said. "I knew that I was getting really close and just needed to stay patient."
She made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch that ended on the 10th, dropped a stroke on the par-4 11th and sealed it with birdies on the par-3 15th and 17th. Second-ranked Lydia Ko, No. 3 Stacy Lewis and 2014 winner Shanshan Feng tied for second.
"I was weirdly calm today," Korda said. "I knew what I needed to do. I needed to take care of myself. If somebody was going to make a hot start, that's just the way it was going to be. I was going to continue playing my game."
She cried on the 18th green after her final putt.
"I think just struggling and being at your lowest and then feeling this and just going through these emotions, just incredible gratitude and just being so humbled by everything," Korda said. "All the support that I've had, the people that have stuck with me this year, didn't stop believing in me even when I did a little bit. I think just all that hit me a little bit."
The long-hitter failed to qualify for the Solheim Cup team and was passed over as a captain's pick.
"Stepping back and looking at it, yeah, I was disappointed I wasn't on the team, but I know I played my way off the team and there was no chance that I could have helped," Korda said. "I was really glad with the way that everything happened. I got to go to the Czech Republic for a couple days after Evian and sit down with my grandparents and my cousin. Honestly, the last three weeks have been such a great time in my life."
Korda finished at 18-under 266 and earned $300,000. She opened with rounds of 69, 67 and 65 to take a two-stroke lead into the final day. The weekend 65s are her two best scores this year.
"Jess played unbelievable today. Nobody was going to beat her," Lewis said. "When you have a two-shot lead and shoot 6 under, it's pretty hard to beat."
Korda's father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open tennis tournament.
"I didn't actually get to talk to my dad," Korda said. "It went straight to voicemail, but I did get a series of text messages."
Ko finished with a 66. The 18-year-old New Zealander was coming off consecutive victories in Canada and France, where she became the youngest major champion.
Feng also had a 66, and Lewis shot 67.
"I think I did a lot of good stuff this week and a lot of good things to build on," Lewis said.
The event was the first of five straight in Asia. The LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship is next week in South Korea, followed by stops in Taiwan, China and Japan.