Strong starts for Korda, Jang


OCALA, Fla. – Jessica Korda’s brilliant finish nearly won her yet another LPGA season opener.

Ha Na Jang’s solid debut makes her the player to beat in the LPGA Rookie of the Year race.

With a late charge Saturday at the Coates Golf Championship, Korda just missed an eagle putt at the 18th hole that could have forced a playoff with Na Yeon Choi, who took home the trophy at the inaugural event. Korda ended up tying for second.

Two of Korda’s three LPGA titles were season-opening events. Korda won the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic when it was the year’s first event last season. She won the Women’s Australian Open when it was the season opener in 2012.

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“It feels good to start strong,” Korda said.

Five shots down at day’s start, Korda closed with a 6-under-par 66, equaling the round of the day. She dropped to her knees watching her 15-foot eagle putt at the 18th horseshoe out of the hole.

“Pretty tough, tough break,” Korda said.

With the LPGA moving to the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week, Korda takes a lot of momentum to her title defense.

Jang went to the 18th hole needing a birdie to force a playoff, but she couldn’t get up and down from the front of the green to tie Choi. Jang, No. 21 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, made an impressive debut tying for second with Lydia Ko and Korda. Jang takes the early lead in the Rookie of the Year points race.