Korda kicks off 2014 season with dramatic win
Paradise Island, Bahamas (SportsNetwork.com) - Jessica Korda carded an unorthodox birdie at the par-5 18th on Sunday to edge Stacy Lewis and win the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Tied for the lead with Lewis entering the final hole at Atlantis Resort's Ocean Club Golf Course, Korda found the fairway with her drive, then sent her second shot through the back of the green. The ball came to rest near several cables at the base of the grandstands.
With her options limited, Korda elected to putt under the cables, which a pair of tournament officials held aloft as the ball rolled onto the green and within five feet of the cup. The 20-year-old converted the birdie effort from there to wrap up her second LPGA Tour victory.
"Trying to figure out where to drop or not to drop, it was kind of a nice distraction to be honest," said Korda. "It made me laugh and I wasn't thinking about what I needed to do."
Korda, who began the final round two shots off the lead, fired a 7-under-par 66 and finished the event at 19-under 273. Her previous LPGA Tour win came at the 2012 Women's Australian Open.
Lewis, who played a group ahead of Korda, also shot 66 to end alone in second place at 18-under 274.
Overnight leader Na Yeon Choi stumbled to a 72 and tied for third place at 16- under. She finished alongside Paula Creamer (69), Lizette Salas (71) and Pornanong Phatlum (67).
Lydia Ko shot 68 and shared seventh with three others at 15-under in her first LPGA Tour event as a member. Ko, 16, won twice on the LPGA Tour as an amateur before turning pro in October and being granted tour membership shortly thereafter. She is the first player since Korda to successfully petition LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan for early membership.
Michelle Wie carded a 71 and ended in a five-way tie for 13th at 12-under.
The top of the leaderboard was crowded throughout Sunday, as several players vied for the advantage.
Lewis was the first to jump in front.
Starting the day three shots off the lead, Lewis got off to a scorching start, tallying birdies at six of her first eight holes to briefly grab the lead. She cooled with a bogey at the ninth, however, handing the advantage to Salas, who birdied four of her first eight.
"Whatever number I needed to hit, I hit," said Lewis. "I left two putts short in those first eight holes. I could've been 8-under."
As Salas dropped out of contention with three straight bogeys from the ninth, Korda made her move, reeling off five birdies in a seven-hole span from the fourth to join the fray.
Choi was also in the mix after going bogey-free with a pair of birdies over her first 10 holes, but she played the rest of her round at 1-over, with a birdie and two bogeys, to end at minus-16.
Lewis had the advantage late, using birdies at Nos. 11 and 14, along with Korda's bogey at the 13th, to move ahead by two.
But she couldn't hang on.
Korda birdied the 15th, then, with Lewis watching from the 18th tee box, rolled home an eight-foot birdie putt at the 17th to draw even.
Lewis, on the other hand, closed with four straight pars, including one at the last, where she sent her second shot long and left of the green, left her chip 15 feet short and two-putted for a five, allowing Korda to seal the win with her unorthodox birdie.
"It was like double dutch," Korda said. "I was jumping over wires and people were holding onto them. It was really funny."
NOTES: Korda earned $195,000 with the win and is projected to move No. 40 to No. 26 in the Rolex Women�s World Golf Rankings ... Lewis was seeking her ninth LPGA Tour win ... This marked the first time in 13 years that the LPGA Tour season kicked off in January.
01/26 19:00:10 ET