[PHOTO: Orlando Ramirez]

Nelly Korda completed her West Coast sweep today at Shadow Creek, as the No. 1 player in the world won for the third straight week and fourth consecutive start by dismantling Solheim Cup star Leona Maguire, 4&3, to take home the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas.

Korda’s 12th career title makes her the first to win four events in a row since Lorena Ochoa in 2008 and the first American to do so since Nancy Lopez in 1978.

“It’s just been a whirlwind,” Korda said. “It’s been an amazing time, and to do it here as well in matchplay has been so much fun.”

Since taking a seven-week break after winning the LPGA Drive On Championship in her hometown of Bradenton, Florida, in January, Korda has separated herself from her peers. She split her time between Prague and her home, dedicating herself to full-body workouts she built with her team while away from the tour.

“Honestly, at the start of this year, I was just thinking that I just wanted to be happy and healthy,” Korda said. “I haven’t had a full season where I wasn’t sidelined from an injury. It’s still really early on in the season, but I have a great team behind me that I wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

Korda dealt with injuries in three of the past four seasons, including a blood clot that required emergency surgery and sidelined her for six months in 2022. Her training kept her energised over the 245 holes of golf she has played in the past three weeks, coming from two strokes behind on Sunday to win at both the Fir Hills Se Ri Pak Championship in Palos Verdes Estates, California, and the Ford Championship outside Phoenix, before 100 holes in the past five days. On top of that, the 25-year-old drove in between each of her victories, including on her own this past Monday to Las Vegas.

“I’m actually feeling really good,” Korda said of her energy level. “I don’t know if it’s gonna hit me when I get home. But I feel, I feel really good.”

Korda’s chances at four in a row nearly ended early. The LPGA changed the format, adding three rounds of strokeplay to shrink the 96-player field down to a final eight for the weekend. Playing in the event for the first time, she sat in 20th place at the start of Friday, but carded a three-under 69 in testing windy conditions with up to 30mph gusts to surge into sixth place.

Korda dispatched Solheim Cup teammate Angel Yin, 3&2, in the quarter-finals on Saturday, then bested three-year LPGA veteran Narin An, 4&3, in the semi-finals.

Photo: Orlando Ramirez

Maguire seemed to be a formidable opponent in the final match. The two-time Solheim Cup participant, who earned a record 4.5 points as a rookie in 2021, had not trailed in either of her two matches on Saturday. The Irishwoman held a 3-1 Solheim Cup record against Korda, though the duo had only played against each other in pairs matches. Maguire, 29, also held the Shadow Creek experience advantage, with two previous appearances at the event, including a semi-final loss last year.

None of it mattered against Korda’s overwhelming dominance as she broke away from Maguire with three straight birdies from the fifth through seventh to win all three holes, sitting 4 up with 11 holes to play. Maguire never fully recovered, winning the 13th and 14th to extend the match before Korda closed the door with a par on the 15th hole. Korda didn’t see the 17th or 18th holes all weekend.

“Obviously Nelly is the best player in the world right now, probably male or female,” Maguire said. “She’s playing unbelievable golf and I knew I was going to have to bring my A-plus game if I was going to have a chance and just didn’t putt well enough. And hats off to Nelly, she really didn’t give me much of a chance. It’s very impressive what she’s doing.”

Korda, in her eighth season, continues adding to her historic ledger. She is only the sixth player to win three consecutive events, joining Annika Sorenstam (2002 and 2005), Lorena Ochoa (2007), Inbee Park (2013) and Ariya Jutanugarn (2016). Korda’s four victories match her career-high in 2021 when she won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Olympic gold medal.

She’s now 25th in all-time career earnings ($US10,161,489). Korda is the first to win four events in five starts to start a season since 88-time LPGA winner Kathy Whitworth did so in 1969.

Mercifully for the rest of the LPGA, there is no event this week, giving Korda a trip back home before the first major of the year at the Chevron Championship. When she arrives in Houston, she will have an opportunity to match the record of most consecutive LPGA events won, held by Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-2005).