JESSICA KORDA (-18) WINS THE 2015 SIME DARBY LPGA MALAYSIA
Written By: Nicklaus Parker
(Nicklaus Parker is coordinator tour media and digital content for LPGA.com)
Jessica Korda began crying before the last putt even dropped. A month and a half ago she was content simply making the cut in Canada. Sunday, she cruised to a four-shot victory for her fourth career title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Golf can change quickly and Korda’s weekend rounds of 65-65 were her two best rounds of 2015 and her 18-under-par total was the second lowest in tournament history.
“The struggle. I think just struggling and being at your lowest and then feeling this and going through these emotions,” Korda said, “just incredible gratitude and just being so humbled by everything. All the support that I’ve had, the people that have stuck with me this year, didn’t stop believing in me even when I did a little bit.”
It would have been easy to do. She finished as the runner-up at the Coates Golf Championship Presented by R&L Carriers to open the season, but it had been a struggle ever since. Zero top-10s and a missed cut in 8 of her last 12 starts. That all changed in the three-week break between a missed cut at the Evian Championship and Sunday at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
“I think it was just a long time coming,” Korda said. “I knew that I was getting really close and just needed to stay patient. That’s all my caddie was telling me. He was on me all week about staying patient, the putts will fall. So it’s just an incredible feeling.”
Lydia Ko, the runner-up to Korda with Stacy Lewis and Shanshan Feng, played in the group in front of Korda but raced out of the scorer’s tent to the 18th green to spray Korda with water and celebrate. “That’s just a testament of the amazing person,” Korda said of Ko. “She is definitely one of my closest friends out here. It’s always a good laugh with her.” Ko certainly didn’t make it easy on her friend. She poured in birdies on four of the first nine holes, and cut Korda’s lead to one shot at one point.
“Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I knew that was going to happen. She told me last night,” Korda said. She knew Ko was coming but she remained unshaken. She saw the world No. 2’s charge and didn’t flinch. If there were any signs of nerves, she certainly didn’t show it. She made her lone bogey of the day at the par-4 11th but poured in birdies at 15 and 17 when it mattered most to close the deal.
“I know I was weirdly calm today,” Korda said. “I knew what I needed to do. I needed to take care of myself. If somebody was going to make a hot start, that’s just the way it was going to be. I was going to continue to play my own game.”
The scene at the 18th is likely one that will remain in Korda’s memory forever. She put her head down and began to cry immediately upon the last putt dropping. But that didn’t last long because others besides just Lydia Ko were racing to the green to celebrate with her. Stacy Lewis, Austin Ernst, Kim Kaufman, and Ha Na Jang all dumped water on Korda’s head and celebrated a title that never seemed in doubt Sunday.
“Jess played unbelievable today. Nobody was going to beat her,” Stacy Lewis said. “When you have a two-shot lead and shoot 6-under, it’s pretty hard to beat.”