“Finally!” Nelly Korda said to her caddie, Jason McDede, as she watched her perfectly struck controlled 8-iron find the bottom of the cup from 131-yards for an eagle on the par-4 15th. The eagle proved to be just the boost the 21-year-old needed to start her first career title defense off on the right foot.
“Well, actually, when I holed out, it was just like, finally, because I've been so close this year, and it's lipped-out a couple of times. Finally when it went in, it felt really good.”
Thanks to the eagle on 15 and seven birdies, Korda heads into the second round tied atop the leaderboard at 6-under par. Korda hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation on Thursday, a stat that she says has been key to her impressive 2019 season.
“I think just on my irons a lot,” Korda, on what she’s been working on to post consistent results. “I make sure to dial in my irons quite well. I think that's kind of what I've done really well this year is I've raised my greens in reg, and I've given myself a lot of opportunities.”
HUR’S HOT STREAK CONTINUES
Mi Jung Hur went five years between her maiden LPGA title at the 2009 Cambia Portland Classic, and her second career win at the 2014 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic. Hur then waited another five years to hoist the trophy at the 2019 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open amidst rain and windy conditions. Hur’s five-year waiting streak would end there as she won the Indy Women in Tech Championship just two starts later in wire-to-wire fashion.
Hur got off to another great start as she posted a bogey-free 66 on Thursday at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA to sit in a tie for the lead. Hur’s not letting her recent success go to her head, however, she said she’s sticking to her process and keeping her mind on the task at hand.
“I don't want to like think about up any other wins -- even when I win the Indy Women in Tech -- I didn't think about the win. During the week I'm just trying to stay in the present. My goal for this year, I just want to focus on my present because it's too hard. I think it's harder than win the tournament.”
Hur might have a secret weapon at her disposal this week. Her husband, Kevin Wang, who she says rarely gets to attend LPGA events is in the gallery this week as he was for her wins in Scotland and Indianapolis. Hur’s parents are also in Chinese Taipei this week.
Rolex Rankings No. 8 Nelly Korda (66)
- Korda hit 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 27 putts
- Korda is making her third career start at the event, she won in 2018 and finished T27 in 2017
- In 2019, Korda has made 18 starts with 10 top-10 finishes including a win at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
- Became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2018 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, which was played at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club
- Korda and her older sister Jessica (five wins) are one of three sets of sisters in LPGA history to both win titles, joining Annika Sorenstam (72 wins) and Charlotta Sorenstam (one win), and Ariya Jutanugarn (10 wins) and Moriya Jutanugarn (one win)
Rolex Rankings No. 22 Mi Jung Hur (66)
- Hur hit 6 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
- Hur is making her sixth career start at the event, her lone top-10 finish came in 2013 (T8)
- In 2019, Hur has made 21 starts with five top-10 finishes including wins at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Indy Women in Tech Championship
- Went 112 starts between wins at the 2014 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic and the 2019 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; made two starts between her win in Scotland and Indianapolis
- Hur is one of six players to have multiple wins this season, joining Hannah Green (2), Brooke Henderson (2), Jin Young Ko (4), Sei Young Kim (2) and Sung Hyun Park (2)
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Minjee Lee (67)
- Lee hit 10 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Lee is making her fifth start at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA this week, in four previous appearances she has never finished outside the top 20 with a runner-up finish in 2018
- In 2019, Lee has made 23 LPGA starts with seven top-10 finishes including a win at the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open and three runner-up results
- Lee is a five-time LPGA winner; only Karrie Webb (41), Jan Stephenson (16) and Rachel Hetherington (eight) have more LPGA wins among Australian players
- In her second career LPGA start, 2019 AIG Women’s British Open winner Hinako Shibuno opened with a 3-under par 69
RACE TO THE CME GLOBE NEARING THE FINISH LINE
Heading into the 30th week of the 2019 Race to the GME Globe, four-time winner Jin Young Ko leads the standings with 4,148 points. Two-time 2019 winner Brooke Henderson is second with 2,772 points, followed by Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Jeongeun Lee6 with 2,652 points.
The 2019 season brings a fresh face to the Race to the CME Globe. LPGA Members will accumulate points at each official LPGA Tour event leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top 60 points earners and ties will then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship, with the entire field competing for the $5 million purse and the $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.
At this week’s Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA several players are on the bubble of making it into the CME Group Tour Championship. Players must finish in the top 40 and ties at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA to earn Race to the CME Globe points.
FINAL COUNTDOWN FOR AON RISK REWARD CHALLENGE
The season-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge highlight's the world's best professional golfers as they tackle the most strategically challenging holes across both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR schedules. The player from each Tour on top of the Aon leaderboard at the end of the regular season will receive a $1 million prize.
Heading into the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, Carlota Ciganda leads the standings at -0.841, with Ariya Jutanugarn in second at -0.800 and In-Kyung Kim in third at -0.750. Ciganda is not playing the final two qualifying events.
The designated Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA is the 342-yard 8th. This par 4 has multiple teeing areas and presents a wonderful risk-reward opportunity for the player, depending on yardage for the day. It will be set up from the forward tee at just 255 yards for at least two of the four rounds. Two long bunkers guard the left side of the fairway, close to the landing area, while another bunker (short and right of the green) lies in wait for a poorly struck second shot.
On Thursday the eighth hole played at 339 yards, and both Jutanugarn and Kim made par.
The scoring system is identical on both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR, and players take their best two scores from each Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, with the winners having the best average score to par at the end of the season. Players must play a minimum of 40 rounds throughout the season. The Challenge runs across regular season tournaments (29 LPGA Tour; 36 PGA TOUR).
For more information about the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, visit www.lpga.com/statistics/aon-risk-reward-challenge.