Korda to take Woods-like dominance into US Open

Nelly Korda is in the kind of form that Tiger Woods displayed during his pomp

Nelly Korda arrives into the biggest week on the women’s golf calendar as a red-hot favourite to land her first US Open title having won six of her last seven tournaments.

It is a period of extraordinary dominance. In those tournaments, stretching back to late January, she has beaten a combined 883 competitors, losing to only six by finishing seventh in the only event she has not won.

In the half-dozen strokeplay events involved, she is an aggregate 74 under par.

The world standings show the points average gap between Korda and Lilia Vu, her closest rival, is greater than the margin between the world number two and any other golfer who features in the ranking list.

It is the stuff of Tiger Woods in his pomp and similar to the way Scottie Scheffler currently dominates the divided men’s game.

After Korda’s most recent win at the Mizuho Americas Cup in New Jersey, PGA Tour player Michael Kim posted on social media that the women’s world number one should be welcomed onto the leading men’s circuit.

“Would be really cool to see Nelly get an exemption to a PGA Tour tournament,” said the American, who is routinely one of the most interesting and insightful players on X (formerly Twitter).

It seems to be a default position that when a female player starts to do something extraordinary on the LPGA Tour, they should be invited to see how they fare against the men.

Annika Sorenstam played the Colonial event in 2003 when the then 32-year-old Swede was at the height of her powers. Her five-over-par return, missing the cut by four, was seen as a triumph for women’s golf.

“She played amazing,” said compatriot Jesper Parnevik. “I guess we have the ‘Shark’, the ‘Tiger’ and now we have the ‘Superwoman’.”

Subsequently we have seen forays into the men’s game by the likes of Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson and on occasion they have added lustre and intrigue to otherwise humdrum, run-of-the-mill men’s tournaments.

With Korda, though, it feels different. She is bringing eyeballs to women’s golf, setting a benchmark to which her rivals can aspire.

This is what really needs to be showcased. It is a fantastic opportunity for the female game to elevate itself in international sporting consciousness.

It comes at a time when their male counterparts are embroiled in the ongoing greedy mess that has ensued since the arrival of the breakaway LIV Golf circuit.

Korda with her latest trophy, the Mizuho Americas Open

How Korda compares with the best men in the world is utterly irrelevant. What is significant is the way in which she is elevating the women’s game and especially at this week’s US Open.

She inevitably carries the burden of being a hot favourite and is the primary focus at Lancaster Country Club in Philadelphia. Everything suggests she is more than capable of handling the pressure.

As at the year’s first major, the Chevron Championship at Woodlands near Houston, the 25-year-old Floridian comes in after a week off following her most recent win.

On those firm, unreceptive greens in Texas, Korda proved herself a class apart to complete her second major victory. The 2021 Women’s PGA champion was nervous down the stretch but her technical brilliance saw her through.

Provided the vagaries of the draw do not intervene, there is every reason to believe she can continue this remarkable run.

Korda’s biggest threat is probably Australia’s world number five Hannah Green, the only other player to have won a tournament in which the American has played during the last four months.

But the 27-year-old from Perth, who won the 2019 PGA for her only major success, has never posted a top 10 in the ultra-tough conditions the USGA likes to create for their US Opens.

Several of the game’s other big names have struggled to fire during this period. Vu is plagued by a back injury and has not played since late March, while Celine Boutier, the leading European, is without a top 10 in her last seven outings.

Defending champion Allison Corpuz has struggled, as have world number four Ruoning Yin and 2022 US Open winner Minjee Lee.

Britain’s Charley Hull could be a threat, having posted yet another runners-up finish at the Aramco event in Korea earlier this month, although compatriot Georgia Hall has yet to contend this year.

Hall says she sent a jokey text to Korda thanking her for pulling out of a recent tournament to give everyone else a chance.

That is how it feels right now, and as Hall said last week, the dominance of the world number one is “great for the game”.

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