Phoenix-native Jessica Korda took the lead as she closed in on the women’s European Tour on Sunday and said she was pleasantly surprised to see it hold up after a tense final round.
“I definitely think I was shocked that I was in that position,” said Korda. “It’s always the last day, and I never knew how it was going to go.”
Team Jessica Korda, made up of Korda, Callie Garrido, Janice Moodie and Vicky Hurst, won the Rolex Series of the Women’s European Tour, one of the LPGA’s four sanctioned tour series in Europe.
Korda, who never had won on the LPGA Tour before the 2018 season, lost her chance at the $300,000 first prize to Colombian Paula Reto La Rocca and partnered with Hurst on Sunday to get the win instead.
Korda was one of the top players on the tour after the early rounds of the tournament. She said she was motivated to win because it wasn’t something she was used to.
“This week was definitely different from previous seasons when I was winning,” she said. “This year I was No. 20 on the money list and I didn’t think I would be playing in a Tour event.”
Korda struggled the majority of the week with the course layout at H2O Golf Club and was in last place by several strokes after 24 holes on Saturday.
The 2016 U.S. Women’s Open champ felt her fortunes changed on Sunday. She trailed the leader by as many as four strokes and came within inches of taking the outright lead on the 17th hole, hitting a hard shot from far right of the fairway and into the greenside bunker.
She followed up with a two-putt to set up her eagle putt on the 18th.
In the rain-shortened pro-am, Kadny shot 75 and Garrido shot 76. Hurst started the round at one under, then shot a 75 in the rain-shortened pro-am, before battling to a 75 in the final round.
“It was really important to see my own game improve and learn how to play the hole so you don’t make mistakes and you don’t chip well,” said Hurst. “I am so thrilled to be the first Rolex Series event held in the United States. And to do it on the women’s professional tour? I’m so excited.”
Fellow Arizona State alumnus Hurst won a major this season when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in her first LPGA Tour start. Korda has not fared so well on the Tour this season.
Despite not having played competitively in several months due to knee surgery, her 2-under 140 on Sunday took a big step toward her goal of returning to golf by the start of next season.
“I feel like I’m moving forward, but it’s going to take some time,” said Korda. “But I have no choice. I have to take a year and get stronger and also take time to not do some crazy stuff I did last year. I’m trying to do that. I’m doing those two things, being 100 percent and let my mental game fall back into place.”
Korda finished in a tie for 13th at the April Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. She is currently at No. 45 on the current money list.