Chevron Championship: Nelly Korda chasing fifth LPGA Tour win in row at first women’s major of 2024

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The United States is all agog with women’s sport although the fascination has yet to extend to female golf stars despite the extraordinary feats of Nelly Korda.

This might change somewhat if the 25-year-old world number one collects her fifth straight win and second major title this week. Were she to succeed in the Chevron Championship here in Texas she would emulate the great Nancy Lopez in 1978.

Korda is the first American to win four consecutive tournaments on the LPGA since Lopez won five straight 46 years ago. This astonishing streak made the then rookie front page material for Sports Illustrated.

Lopez’s run began at the Greater Baltimore Classic and included a major title at the LPGA Championship.

Right now the headlines are being dominated by basketball’s Caitlin Clark, the number one pick in the recent WNBA’s draft following her stellar college career with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Her performances have garnered massive TV audiences – 18.9m – which was twice the number of people who watched Scottie Scheffler win the Masters last Sunday. At 9.6m, they represented a worrying drop of 20% on the previous year.

Korda’s feats have yet to transcend the golfing village, and perhaps that suits her as she “tries to stay in my bubble”. But the American Solheim Cup player does recognise that more could be done to tell the increasingly compelling story of women’s golf.

“I feel like we just need a stage,” she told reporters here at Carlton Woods just north of Houston. “We need to be put on TV.

“I feel like when it’s tape delay, or anything like that, that hurts our game. Women’s sports just needs a stage. If we have a stage we can show up and perform and show people what we’re all about.”

Korda has beaten every golfer she has faced on the LPGA Tour since the Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club in late January.

There has been a seven-week break in that spell, but she returned to win at Palos Verdes in California, the Ford Championship in Arizona and then the Match Play in Las Vegas.

Last week was an off week. She says she has never felt more tired and while she hit Florida’s beaches, Scheffler – a similarly dominant figure in the men’s game – was surging to his Masters triumph.

The expectation levels that accompanied the Augusta victor are similar to those surrounding Korda this week. “Gosh, I don’t think anyone can ever say anything bad about Scottie,” Korda told me.

“I love his morals, I love his attitude out there. I just love the way he goes about his business. He inspires so many around him, including myself.

“As he said, he wants to win every tournament he tees it up in. That’s every girl that’s out here competing, too.

“I think that you just have to go about your business. You can get lost in the articles, lost in the expectations, but I think if you just stick to your true self, I feel like you can live in your own bubble and enjoy it a lot more.”

Korda realises this is a special time. But the Women’s PGA champion of three years ago is still waiting for that second major title. It is surely just around the corner.

“In 2021 I went on a run, and then in 2022 and 2023 golf really humbled me,” she said.

“There are ups and downs. Every athlete goes through the rollercoaster, and that is what makes the sport so great. You mature and grow so much and learn more about yourself.

“You never take these weeks for granted. You always try to appreciate and become very grateful for them.

“It makes just all the hard work so worth it. But I think I’ve learned so much about myself even through the losses.”

Korda is likely to consult her yardage book for more than distance advice this week because she has written important motivational messages that have yielded a quartet of wins in this extraordinary run.

“They’re private,” she teased. “They were ones that (coach) Jamie Mulligan had me put in there.

“Actually the first week I had it was in Bradenton, the yardage book. I look at those sayings –there are four in there, and I look at those sayings almost every hole.”

She will need to beat a first class field here including Lilia Vu, for whom this title was one of two major successes last year. Korda, who is above Vu at the top of the world rankings, was runner up 12 months ago so knows she can play well around this course.

Britain’s best hope is Charley Hull, who was second to Vu at last year’s AIG Women’s Open, but the Englishwoman, ranked seventh in the world, may be hampered by a freak right ankle injury sustained while throwing a ball for her dog.

Farnham’s Lottie Woad is also in the field, fresh from winning the prestigious Augusta National Women’s Amateur title on the eve of Masters week.

But the coming days will be all about how Korda fares. Success would be a significant boost in the bid to popularise the women’s game.

Her aims appear to be grounded in solid foundations. She said she intends to “enjoy every second of it”, adding: “Careers go by really fast and there are so many highs and lows in.

“Just be grateful about it all and very humble.”

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