Sunday's draw a first, but familiar pairing for Korda sisters

kholtzman@dailypress.com
LPGA's sister act

After teeing off on the Kingsmill Resort River Course's10th hole Sunday, sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda shared a snack and walked side by side up the incline to the fairway. And after each player made par on the 10th, the elder Jessica brushed something off of Nelly's back before heading to the 11th tee box.

Of course, the Kordas did not think very much about the fact that Sunday's final round in the LPGA Kingsmill Championship marked the first time they had been paired together on tour since they play together all the time. But gallery observers marveled at the rare display, often making sure their fellow patrons knew: "Sisters."

The other prominent sister duo on tour — Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn — have been drawn into the same group only a few times. Moriya teed off a full hour and a half earlier than Ariya on Sunday.

"It was like any normal round, really," Jessica Korda said. "It was nice to be able to play with your sister, but it was like any normal round. We play so much golf together that it didn't feel any different."

The Korda sisters each finished 2-under par and tied for 31st, recording identical four-day totals of 69-70-70-73.

They call Bradenton, Fla. home and are the daughters of former international tennis players Petr Korda and Regina Raichrtova.

Jessica, 24, is older than rookie sister Nelly by about five and a half years, and boasts four career wins and 23 career top 10s.

"It's cool that we scored the same exact score," Nelly Korda said, "but we would have hoped it was higher up the leaderboard."

Top rookie

The rookie that finished highest up the leaderboard Sunday was Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom, who finished tied for seventh at 8-under for her best showing on tour.

Last year's Symetra Tour Player of the Year and the 2015 SEC Player of the Year at LSU had only made two cuts entering Kingsmill with a previous best showing of tied for 43rd at the Kia Classic.

"I think I've figured it out now and I'm just going to keep doing my thing, doing what I did this week, because it's working," Sagstrom said. "I have to kind of just remind myself where I am. This is my childhood dream since I was 13 and now I'm here."

Her partner on Sunday: just the world's top-ranked player, Lydia Ko, who ended up tied for 10th.

"She's one of the nicest girls out here,"' Sagstrom said. 'We just had a great time today. She's just like me, she's just the No. 1."

Biggest movers

Three players made big jumps up the leaderboard in the top 10 on Sunday, led by American veteran Angela Stanford.

The Texas native rose from tied for ninth Saturday to finish third at 11-under. After two rounds, Stanford was 37th.

Spain's Carlota Ciganda shot 4-under Sunday to jump from 14th Saturday to tied for fifth and Norway's Suzann Pettersen, a 2007 Kingsmill winner, also shot 4-under to rise from tied for 28th Saturday to tied for 10th after Sunday's final round.

O Canada

On Saturday, Pettersen cited her first tour win at Kingsmill in 2007 for igniting her career.

The course is special for Canadian Brooke Henderson, too. After debuting here as a sponsor's exemption in 2015, Henderson is now one of the top-15 players in the world with 21 top 10s.

She had her best showing at Kingsmill this year, finishing tied for 14th.

"Playing here three times, I know the course a lot better," Henderson said. "When I got that sponsor's invite, it really set up my career and I'm very grateful to all the tournament directors and Kingsmill for giving me that opportunity."

 

Growing the game

First Tee Virginia Peninsula, a branch of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA, started five years ago with about 30 children, and is now approaching a thousand participants ranging in age from 5-17.

Seven golf clubs around the Peninsula host the program: Kiln Creek, The Hamptons, Langley Air Force Base's Eaglewood, the Pines, Two Rivers Country Club, Colonial Heritage, and Colonial Williamsburg's Golden Horseshoe.

Saturday's second annual Kid-Am Tournament at Golden Horseshoe gave leaders of the local First Tee program a chance to reflect on where the venture started, and where it may be headed.

One of the goals of the program is to help young golfers not only enhance their golf skills, but be "even better people."

Tom Carnevale of Yorktown is the executive director for First Tee Virginia Peninsula and former Cal Poly golfer Jessica Huss serves as program director.

Carnevale lauded the LPGA's involvement with First Tee; it now annually includes a forecaddie program at the Kingsmill Championship Pro-Am.

"The LPGA ladies are incredible, not only the way they treat the girls, but all of our children," Carnevale said. "They are just so humble and giving and delightful to work with. It's definitely a big event for us and a big way of getting kids involved in the game."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
30°