A year ago, Nelly Korda was a 20-year-old looking for her first LPGA win. She was No. 40 in the Rolex Rankings and the second-best golfer in her family, behind big sister Jessica. Now, following her victory Sunday in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour, she’s No. 9 in the world after a triumphant tour of Europe.
Korda’s victory at Golf du Medoc near Bordeaux, France, was impressive, closing with a 67 to win by eight strokes over Celine Boutier. But just as remarkable is how well she played after an emotional and exhausting week at Gleneagles when she was on the short end in the 14½–13½ U.S. loss to Europe in the Solheim Cup.
Certainly, Nelly and Jessica both did their all for the Americans, each going 3-0-1 and earning 3½ points. The Korda sisters were unbeatable in foursomes, defeating Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, 6 and 4, then Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law by a 6-and-5 margin. Nelly handled Caroline Hedwall, 2 up, in singles while Jessica turned back Masson, 3 and 2.
Nelly has now won on three different tours, taking a Symetra Tour title in 2016 then picking up her first LPGA win at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC last October. She backed that up at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February on her way to a solid season that’s included T-3 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and T-9 at the AIG Women’s British Open.
Korda was clinging to a one-stroke lead heading into the final round in France but played brilliantly in conditions that must have reminded her of the wind on Saturday at the Solheim Cup. She made six birdies and two bogeys as she closed out a 15-under 269.
“Conditions were tough, but I tried to stay level-headed and I tried to keep my head down and make as many birdies as possible,” Korda said. “I was consistent and hit a lot of fairways and greens, so I gave myself a lot of opportunities and my putting was quite good.”
It’s been a busy month for Korda, who’s traveled from the U.S. to Korea back to the U.S. to Scotland and then France. The tour now heads to Indiana and Texas and then goes to Asia before ending the season in Florida at the CME Group Tour Championship and its record $1.5 million first prize in the conclusion of the Race to the CME Globe.
“I played really well last week and unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but I’ve been playing really solidly,” Korda said about the Solheim Cup. “I played a KLPGA event a couple of weeks before Solheim and I finished second there, so I’m playing really solid and hopefully I can do it again.”
Korda is the third American in four years to win the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, following Beth Allen, who won in 2016, and Cristie Kerr, the victor in 2017. Nelly was born in the United States but her parents, Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtová, are retired tennis players from the Czech Republic.
“It feels great to win in Europe and hopefully I’ll win one day in Czech,” Korda said.
The runner-up, Boutier, joined Georgia Hall as the leading points winners in the Solheim Cup, garnering four points each for Europe. Hedwall, Korda’s victim in Solheim singles, tied for third in France with Joanna Klatten.
Korda led by six after 36 holes but Klatten fought her way back into the mix with a back-nine 29 in the third round. But Nelly put things away with birdies on Nos. 9, 11, 12, 14 and 16 on Sunday to break clear of the pack.
Boutier, who picked up her first LPGA win at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia the week before Korda won the Women’s Open there, was also impressive given the demands of an incredible Solheim Cup.
“I’m very excited about the result because right after Solheim, I didn’t know what to expect, physically and mentally after that week,” Boutier said. “Nelly played very well and it was going to be hard to catch her, especially in those conditions, so I’m happy with the result. I have to say, the back nine was a little tough.”
Nelly still trails Jessica in LPGA victories, five to two, but she has passed her in the Rolex Rankings with her sister now No. 19. It could very well be that this battle to be the best golfer in the Korda family is going to push each sister to contend to be the best in the world. That’s a sibling rivalry worth watching.