Jessica Korda survived a six-player playoff on Sunday to take the Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne, sealing her first professional win with a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of sudden death.
The win, coming in just her 16th LPGA start, is historic on many levels.Korda becomes the fourth-youngest player to win in LPGA history, only bettered by contemporaries Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer, and World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene Hagge. Defeating five other players in sudden death, Korda notched her maiden LPGA title in a playoff of record-tying size (the 1999 Kroger Classic was the other with six players).
The win is a boost to her bank account – taking $165,000 for the win – as well as her confidence. In her rookie year in 2011, Korda made just eight cuts in 15 events and had one top-20 finish at the Avnet LPGA Classic.
For the LPGA, it certainly helps to say it has another American teenager as a champion. Coming off a year where a new star was born in Yani Tseng, challengers of all ages appear to be lining up to challenge her asserted dominance.
The Aussie Open playoff may also represent an American resurgence as Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome, winners of two of the last three Kraft Nabisco Championships, were in the playoff as well. With Lexi Thompson and Korda, the quartet comprises the set of victorious Americans on the LPGA since 2011.
Perhaps most important for Korda, however, the professional breakthrough happened in the same country where he father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open in tennis.
'It is a really special place for my family,' Korda said. 'For my first win, I honestly could not have thought of a better place.'