Nelly Korda Almost Crumbled Under Pressure Against Lydia Ko; Says Caddie’s Doubts Fired Her Up to ‘Prove Him Wrong’

It was a hometown victory in Bradenton that started it all for Nelly Korda. The 25-year-old entered the 2024 season with the baggage of expectations, after a fruitless 2023 season. The 14-time LPGA Tour winner first tackled the Hilton Grand Vacation and finished T16th to start off the 2024 season.

The next stop was at her hometown, Bradenton, at the LPGA Drive On Championship. Korda had taken the round one lead and going into the final round was four strokes ahead of the field. In an exclusive interview with Golf Digest, Korda said, “The LPGA Drive On Championship was something else.”

The world #1 recalled that she wasn’t having a good day in the final round. Although she entered the round with the four-stroke lead, she lost it after making three bogeys and one double bogey. Korda was three back with two holes 17th and 18th to play. The LPGA star turned to her caddie, Jason McDede, and asked, “There’s no chance is there anymore and he’s like yeah bud there is no chance.”

Korda, as she narrated the story of her first 2024 victory, chuckled and declared it to be her “favorite story ever.” She went on to describe that her 3-wood on the par-5 17th was ordinary, yet she drained the eagle putt. Then at the 18th hole, Korda remembered only two birdies were made in greens in regulation and one was hers.

She made the last birdie of the round and as the crowd cheered, Korda thought she had made another eagle and won the event. However, the ball stopped a foot away. She eventually par putted the hole and forced a playoff with Lydia Ko.

Nelly Korda describes what set her off to win in the playoff
On the first playoff hole, Korda and Ko both were chasing a victory after a poor 2023 season and Ko would have become a Hall of Fame member if she had won the Drive On Championship. Both pros met at the 18th hole tee, with the 20-time LPGA Tour winner scrambling to find the par putt. Whereas Korda found the two-putt for a par.

As the hole was tied, the two walked back to the 18th tee, and Ko found the green in her first shot, but Korda couldn’t. However, the Kiwi native missed out on her birdie putt while Korda chipped in her par. The fans roared as Korda became the 9-time LPGA Tour winner. What put her on?

The now 14-time winner expressed, “I always joke that when he [McDede] tells me I can’t do something, I do it, I like hearing that I can’t do it because then I go up and do it. There’s just a little bit of more of motivation to prove him wrong.” In her bid to prove her caddie wrong, Korda emerged victorious and shattered expectations of her own and those of her critics.

This kickstarted a run that resulted in five more victories, with Korda winning six times in just six months. Although the 25-year-old missed the cut at the U.S. Open, Nelly Korda has written a perfect comeback story and can do it once again!

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