Nelly Korda had two similar looks for birdie Sunday at Pelican Golf Club’s par-4 18th hole. She made both of them.
Lexi Thompson had two cracks at a much shorter putt on the same hole. She missed both.
The difference was Korda winning the Pelican Women’s Championship in thrilling fashion and Thompson falling short thanks to a faulty flatstick.
"I almost kind of lost faith. I was like, OK, like, you know, time to focus on next week in a sense," Korda said. "I just found myself probably the best putt, putted two times in a row, and rolled them in really nicely. ... My putting probably wasn't the best, but pulled it off with it, so that's what counts."
Korda and Thompson, the co-54-hole leaders, were locked in a final-round battle from the get-go on Sunday in Belleaire, Florida. Though tied for much of the day, Thompson appeared to have victory in hand with two holes to play after Korda's triple bogey at No. 17, but she missed back-to-back par putts, including a 5-footer on her 72nd hole to finish at 17 under, alongside world No. 5 Lydia Ko (66), No. 4 Sei Young Kim (67) and No. 1 Korda, who matched Thompson’s closing 1-under 69 with a 15-foot birdie make on her final hole of regulation.
All four stars then headed back to the 18th tee for the playoff. Ko and Kim were unable to hit their approach shots close while Korda and Thompson found nearly identical spots on the green to where they each were earlier in the day.
When Korda calmly rolled in another birdie from 15-foot range, Thompson could extend with a make of her own. However, she pulled her 6-footer the entire way, her ball running by inches left of the cup.
"Played a lot of good golf, made a lot of good putts, and just wasn't meant for me in the end," Thompson said.
Korda now enters next week’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship with four victories on the season (that doesn’t include her Olympic gold performance). Sunday’s triumph was her first since the KPMG Women’s PGA in June and snaps a streak of four starts without a top-10 finish.
She is still second in the Race to the CME Globe, though, as leader Jin Young Ko tied for sixth.