August 7, 2021
By Ju-min Park
KAWAGOE, Japan (Reuters) -Nelly Korda won the gold medal at the Olympic women’s golf on Saturday with a tense one-stroke victory to complete a United States sweep and secure another glittering prize for a royal family of sport.
Japan’s Mone Inami won the silver medal in a playoff with New Zealand’s bronze medallist Lydia Ko. World number 200 Aditi Ashok of India, who had been second after the third round, finished just outside the medals in fourth.
Korda’s gold medal, six days after American Xander Schauffele won the men’s event, gives her family another precious heirloom to rival father Petr’s Australian Open tennis trophy.
Overnight leader by three strokes, the 23-year-old gave up a share of the lead to Japan’s fast-finishing Inami on the 17th but the home favourite bogeyed 18, giving the American a one-stroke buffer as she shot for the final green.
Korda landed her second in regulation and two-putted for the winning par, finishing with a 69 for a 17-under total of 267.
Older sister Jessica, who finished tied for 15th, did a little dance before hugging Nelly on the green as their U.S. team mates cheered.
It continues Korda’s annus mirabilis, having clinched her first major and the world number one ranking at the Women’s PGA Championship in June.
“This is just a dream season to have. I hope that it keeps continuing because it’s so much fun to watch it,” Jessica said of her younger sister.
The Korda family can look forward to plenty more sporting success, with Jessica a six-times winner on the LPGA Tour in her own right and younger brother Sebastian a title-winner on the ATP tennis tour at the age of 21.
The tournament was Korda’s to lose as an early birdie extended her lead to four strokes but former world number one Ko made it interesting by charging out of the blocks.
Ko raised the pressure with a fourth successive birdie on the fifth hole to shave the lead to two strokes after Korda slid a four-foot birdie putt past the cup.
With Ashok also nipping at her heels, Korda imploded on the seventh after landing short of the green, needing three attempts to chip over a ledge and run the ball near the pin.
After tapping in for five to fall to 14-under with Ko and Ashok, a seething Korda tossed her putter at her bag and strode to the next tee.
She then drove into a fairway bunker on the eighth but shook off the setback with a stunning 21-foot birdie putt to cling to the joint lead.
Regaining the lead with a curling, eight-foot putt downhill for birdie on the next hole, a galvanized Korda marched on.
Her three-stroke buffer was restored as Ko slumped with back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11, but Inami soon made her charge.
Played ahead of Korda’s final group, the 22-year-old Inami rolled in an 14-foot birdie putt to grab a share of the lead at the 17th but her challenge faltered when she plugged her approach shot into a greenside bunker on the 18th.
Inami returned to the 18th to win silver for Japan when Ko slid a par putt by the hole for the bronze, five years after grabbing the silver at Rio.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)