American teenager Jessica Korda won the Women’s Australian Open on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a six-player playoff.
The 18-year-old Korda completed a two-sport, father-daughter Australian double with the breakthrough victory in the LPGA Tour opener. Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open tennis tournament, also in Melbourne.
“When we spoke on Monday, Dad said Melbourne had been good to him,” she said. “As I was walking around here, there was a Melbourne sign on every green. It made me smile because it reminds me of the good times.”
Korda closed with a 1-over 74 to finish at 3-under 289 in the first women’s professional event at Royal Melbourne, the historic sand-belt layout that was the site of the 2011 Presidents Cup.
Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Julieta Granada, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo also were in the playoff, playing in threesomes on the par-4 18th. All six players made par on the first extra hole. On the second, Lewis, Lincicome, Granada and Seo made par and Ryu had a bogey.
Ryu and Seo, playing ahead of Korda and Nikki Campbell in the second-to-last group, topped the leaderboard at 4 under going into the final hole of regulation, but both closed with bogeys to shoot 73.
Lewis finished with a 70, and Lincicome and Granada shot 71.
Playing in the first playoff threesome, Lincicome had a good chance to win on the first extra hole, but her 6-foot birdie try circled the cup and stayed out. She missed a 15-foot birdie try on the second extra hole.
After Korda made her birdie putt in the second group on the second playoff hole, Granada missed a 12-footer that would have sent the two back to the 18th tee.
Korda, making her 16th start as an LPGA Tour member, began the round with a one-stroke lead and was two ahead at 7 under after birdieing three of the first eight holes.
She had a double bogey on No. 9, bogeyed 10, birdied 11, and bogeyed Nos. 14-16 to drop to 2 under, then rallied with a birdie on the par-5 17th and parred the 18th to get the final spot in the playoff.
She made no mistake on the winning putt.
“I was really calm. I knew what the putt did because I had it before and it didn’t move,” she said. “I knew the line and I knew the speed and all I had to do was just hit it.”
She said her father’s reaction was that “he was so proud of me … and we’ll talk about the three-putts after.”
Projected to jump from 285th to 30th in the world ranking, she became the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the fourth youngest to win a 72-hole event.
Jenny Shin finished a stroke out of the playoff at 2 under after a 70.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner the last two years at Commonwealth Golf Club, was 1 under after a 74. The Taiwanese star couldn’t recover from a three-hole stretch Friday in her second-round 76 when she dropped six strokes with a quadruple-bogey 8 and two bogeys. She had a triple-bogey 7 on Sunday on the par-4 fourth.
Korda earned $165,000. The five playoff losers each received $63,784.
The scoring average Sunday was 74.92 and the four-round total was 76.492 on the tough par-73 Royal Melbourne layout.
The LPGA Tour will be in Asia the next two weeks for the LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.