Swinging Skirts Golf Foundation chairman Johnson Wang presents the championship trophy to Nelly Korda of the U.S. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
(November 3, 2019; New Taipei City) Nelly Korda of the U.S. made a clutch birdie putt on the first playoff hole to edge last year's runner-up Minjee Lee of South Korea and Caroline Masson of Germany to successfully complete her title defense at the 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA today in a dramatic fashion.
Minjee Lee of Korea finishes second to Nelly Korda at this tournament for the second straight year. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
The 21-year-old Korda is the tournament's first repeat winner since Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who won the LPGA Taiwan Championship back-to-back in 2012 and 2013, and the first playoff winner. Korda said she could only share her triumph in Taiwan with her sister Jessica Korda via FaceTime last year, so "It was really special for her to see me win this time."
Nelly Korda is the only playoff winner in the tournament's nine-year history. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Nelly Korda is the second player to successfully defend her title in the tournament's nine-year history. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Jessica Korda (L) showers her sister Nelly Korda with champagne after Nelly clinches her victory in the playoff. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Korda, who was virtually unstoppable in the previous two rounds, saw her three-stroke lead neutralized soon after tee-off today after she mixed two birdies with two bogeys on the front nine. On the other hand, Lee and Masson each picked up three shots to tie Korda for the lead at 18-under par after nine holes.
Korda regrouped and started off her back nine with two birdies in three holes, but missed two short putts within 5 feet to take two bogeys to card a disappointing 72. Lee and Masson closed with a 69 and 68 respectively to force a playoff. Korda credited her caddie Jason for calming her down after her miscues, as she was able to pull herself together to birdie the 18th hole of Miramar Golf & Country Club twice -- the first time in regulation to force a playoff and the second time in the playoff hole to clinch the victory with a precise 5-hybrid followed by two putts.
Even though Jason happened to be Masson's fiancé, Korda joked about his dilemma, "Jason is engaged to Caroline, but at the end of the day, he is on my team and I am the one signing his paycheck," said Korda, who has also become the seventh player with multiple wins on the LPGA tour this season after her win at the Australian Open in February.
Caroline Masson of Germany comes up short in the playoff to finish T2. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Korda has now won in Asia, Australia and Europe after joining the LPGA in 2017, but has yet to win on her homeland in the U.S. " Iwould love to win in the US, but I'll take a win anywhere, really. To win on the LPGA Tour is so hard nowadays because so many girls are so good, and when you get a chance to win, you put yourself into contention, you know you're doing so much right," observed Korda.
On the other hand, Brooke M. Henderson of Canada finished strong with five birdies against only one bogey to post a 68 and T4 at 14-under par with Korean veteran Mi Jung Hur and Sei Young Kim of Korea.
Meanwhile, Wei-Ling Hsu of Chinese Taipei made good on her promise to shoot an eagle and close with a 68 today, as she reached the green of the 342-yard 8th hole with her driver before sinking a three footer for an eagle 2. Hsu, who carded a 68 today to finish T19 at 8-under par, is also the local player with the highest standing in the tournament.
In fact, Hsu is also an expert "eagle hunter" on the tour as she has already recorded 10 eagles so far this season and ranks top 10 in that category. Hsu said she would fly to Japan to compete in the TOTO Japan Classic next week, before rounding out her LPGA season with the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship three weeks from now.
Ssu-Chia Cheng, another Chinese Taipei player poised to rejoin the LPGA tour next season, took advantage of four birdies on the back nine to fire a 5-under 67, her best round of the week. Cheng finished tied for 23rd at seven-under par. "I was able to rectify the mistakes I made in previous rounds. I was very consistent on the front nine, and got even better on the back nine," said Cheng.
A lucky fan wins a Gogoro electric scooter at the post-tournament lucky draw. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
A total of 67,373 patrons came out to attend the 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA over the past week. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
According to organizers, 36,742 fans came out today to the final round of the 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, which drew a total of 67,373 patrons over the week. For more information, please visit: http://www.sslpgataiwan.com/
Nelly Korda poses for a group photo with tournament volunteers. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)