It was a dramatic final round on Sunday at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC, but ultimately it was 2018 champion Nelly Korda who hoisted the trophy for a second straight year. Korda started the day with a three-stroke advantage over Minjee Lee and a four-shot lead over Caroline Masson, and she ended the day with a perfect 5-hybrid to set up a birdie on the first playoff hole to take home her third LPGA title.
Korda was unable to build on her lead on the front nine with two birdies and two bogeys, and instead watched Lee and Masson chisel away at it. Lee stumbled out of the gates with a bogey, before settling in and going birdie-par-eagle-par-birdie on Nos. 4-8 to tie Korda’s lead at the turn.
After finding the water with her second shot on the par-4 9th, Korda made a long putt to save bogey and to keep her title defense alive. Korda birdied holes 10 and 12 to build back a three-shot lead, but that’s when things got interesting. Korda had three short par putts turn into three three-putt bogeys on 14, 15, and 17 to lose the lead for the first time all day to Masson with one hole to play.
Masson made par on the par-5 18th hole in regulation while Korda and Lee birdied to force a three-way playoff. Korda was the only one to find the fairway in the playoff and hit a perfect second shot to set up an eagle chance. She left the eagle putt short, but a birdie would be enough for her to win her third career LPGA title and second straight title in Chinese Taipei.
“I kept telling myself, from the heart, from the heart, from the heart, because I was very nervous because it was my first playoff,” Korda said. “The wind kind of brought it back in. I made a couple 3-putts on the back. It just gets away from you so fast, and Caroline made a couple putts and she was one ahead of me on 17. I was like, geez, I have to make a birdie here. Jason [McDede] gave me a little pep talk going from 17 to 18, win or get into a playoff, so he was definitely great today.”
Masson battled all day with just one bogey on the card to fight her way into her first career playoff, and said she can learn a lot from the experience.
Jessica Korda, a five-time LPGA winner, was able to witness her younger sister hoist a trophy for the first time and was the first to give her a congratulatory hug on the 18th green.
“Seeing her walk off 18 in regulation, I saw she had fire in her eyes -- I just felt really good about it and I was just praying that it was going to work out,” Jessica Korda said. “At the end of the day, a playoff, it's totally out of your hands. She piped it down the fairway and hit such a good shot in. I did give her a little bit of crap for leaving it short, as you should. But yeah, so awesome to be here.”