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World’s top player rides hot streak into Las Vegas LPGA event

Nelly Korda is doing things no American woman has done on a golf course in almost 50 years as she arrives in Las Vegas this week.

Korda has won three consecutive starts on the LPGA Tour, something last done by Nancy Lopez in 1978. Korda is also the first American to post three wins before April since JoAnne Carner in 1980.

That means all eyes this week will be on Korda at the T-Mobile Match Play at Shadow Creek. The 25-year-old hasn’t lost a tournament since mid-January but will be taking on the strongest field in the event’s four-year history.

“I’m just trying to stay very much so in the moment,” Korda said. “I feel like with sports and golf in general, you have so much time to think, so I think that staying in the moment is something that I try really hard to focus on.”

Korda’s aim seems easier said than done given the heater she is on. She won the Drive On Championship in Florida the last week of January, skipped the entire Asian swing and then won tournaments outside Los Angeles and Phoenix the past two weeks.

“You kind of can’t think about it too much,” Korda said. “You have to process what you’ve done, but then you have to get ready for the next week. I had the day on Sunday afternoon, my five-hour drive, to process the win and had to get ready. I was on the golf course already yesterday.”

Korda’s impressive run has caught the attention of her peers.

“To see her win three times in a row is super amazing,” Alison Lee said. “Seems super easy, like she didn’t even have to try that hard to win. That just shows how good she is.”

The scary part for her fellow competitors is Korda doesn’t even feel like she’s playing her best golf.

“I would say that every victory I’ve had or every single time I’ve played well I’ve felt more in the zone,” Korda said. “But I would say that the past two weeks everything has just kind of clicked a little bit more. Even my mistakes, I’ve made the right mistakes in a sense.”

Brittany Lincicome has seen a lot of golf during her nearly 20 years on tour. She said only two names come to her mind that compare with Korda’s current form.

“Not since Annika (Sorenstam) or Lorena (Ochoa) really,” Lincicome said. “It’s cool to see her stepping up. She’s just so steady. Doesn’t seem like she does anything too wrong. Never seems to be too out of place.”

Lincicome and defending champion Pajaree Anannarukarn said they and other players keep an eye on Korda, hoping to glean anything they can from her approach.

“She seems very patient out there and enjoys the game of golf,” Anannarukarn said. “Sometimes we just play a lot of competitive golf that we forget to enjoy it.”

Shadow Creek will present a new challenge for Korda. It’s a course she had never seen before this week. The event is also five days of competition instead of the usual four. There’s match play on the weekend as well, a format where anything can happen.

Korda is just focused on stroke play.

“We have three days of it. I know there is a cut after two days and just eight girls get in, so definitely going to have to play some solid golf,” she said.

Korda’s quest for a fourth consecutive title begins at 12:16 p.m. Wednesday in a pairing that includes Minjee Lee and Linn Grant.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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