21 June 2021: It was a battle to remember in the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic, as Nelly Korda prevailed against Leona Maguire to capture the fifth title of her LPGA Tour career and her second of the 2021 season.
Korda fired a 5-under par 67 on Sunday at Blythefield Country Club for a 72-hole score of 25-under 263, matching the tournament scoring record and setting a new tournament record score to par.
“Actually really enjoyed today. Honestly, there have been times where, on Sundays, I really like haven’t enjoyed it, the stress kind of ate at me and I didn’t stay in the moment or enjoy playing on a Sunday in a final group,” said Korda, who is the first player with multiple wins on the LPGA this season. “I enjoyed it today, and it was actually a really good battle between Leona and I. She definitely kept me on my toes.”
Maguire erased a three-stroke deficit with a third consecutive birdie on No. 4 and coupled with a bogey from Korda, it was a two-way tie atop the leaderboard at -20. Korda bounced back and regained the advantage with birdie at No. 6, but Maguire drew even with her thanks to a birdie on No. 8.
The duo made the turn each at 21-under before back-to-back birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 by Korda opened a two-shot cushion for the Rolex Rankings No. 4. A bogey by Korda on No. 12 brought Maguire within one and then an eagle-birdie run at Nos. 14 and 15 widened the gap to three strokes, the same lead she started the day with.
On No. 16, Maguire managed a birdie and modest fist pump to show signs of life, and moments later a bogey from Korda cut it to one. Korda worked her way to birdie on No. 18, despite a challenging lie with her chip including a foot in the greenside bunker, to close the door and leave West Michigan the victor.
“If you told me at the U.S. Women’s Open [after I missed the cut] that I was going to shoot 25-under, I would be like, ‘Yeah, right,’” Korda said. “I did a good bit of work back home [in Florida last week]. My dad was at every practice, a little boot camp with my dad. He’s actually in Prague right now doing a little boot camp with my brother [Sebastian] before Wimbledon. So, he’s flying back and forth.
“I worked on the right stuff and didn’t really put too much pressure on myself this week, which I did at the U.S. Women’s Open. I guess that was the key. Maybe I should learn from that again.”
With the win, Korda moves to No. 1 in the Race to the CME Globe standings ahead of the third major in the 2021 LPGA Tour campaign, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“Competition is getting fiercer every year. You see Patty [Tavatanakit] won her first tournament, so the rookies out here are playing well. Leona is playing well,” said Korda. “I just think the girls are starting to dominate. You go into a week back in the day and think that 5-10 people could win. Now you look and anyone can take home the victory.”
For Maguire, she secures her second runner-up finish of the year, joining her performance at the LOTTE Championship in April.
“Nelly is one of the best players in the world and I went toe to toe with her pretty much all day,” said Maguire, who finished at -23. “I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew I had a lot of golf in front of me. I’m really proud of how I played all week. Hit some great golf shots when I needed to. Got off to a really nice start, which I have been doing, but then backed it up with three more solid rounds after that.”
“I just felt like I wanted it to stay in Grand rapids,” said Korda, now a five-time LPGA Tour champion. “I also love kids. I have always wanted to do something for underprivileged kids, and that’s the first thing that popped into my head. Feels like a good decision and it means so much to give back.”
The Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give raises awareness for Meijer Simply Give, which supports local food pantries and brings the community together through local events and the game of golf. Proceeds from the tournament and the week’s festivities will once again benefit the Meijer Simply Give program that stocks the shelves of food pantries across the Midwest. The 2019 tournament alone raised $1.1 million for local food pantries through Simply Give and despite its cancellation in 2020, Meijer donated an additional $1.1 million.
This year, $1.1 million was raised again. In total, the tournament has generated more than $7.4 million for the Meijer Simply Give program since the event started in 2014.
RUNNER-UP LEONA MAGUIRE WILL FOREVER REMEMBER 2021 MEIJER CLASSIC
From the first tee shot on Thursday until the final putt on Sunday, Ireland’s Leona Maguire put up a good fight in the Meijer Classic for Simply Give, playing more like an LPGA Tour veteran than a second-year rookie. The No. 88-raked player in the Rolex Ranking never let winner Nelly Korda out of her sights as Maguire put up six birdies and no bogeys on Sunday to finish the week 23-under par. That would have been a new tournament record had Korda not finished two shots better.
“Nelly is a great player and one of the best players in the world for a reason. It was great to be able to test my game against her,” said Maguire. “I’m really starting to feel like I belong out here. Even though it’s still my rookie year, I’m feeling more and more comfortable every week.
“My first time in the last group going into the final round, and really proud of how I managed that. You just never know how you’re going to react until you’re in that situation. Really proud of how I handled it,” said Maguire.
With a two-hour flight to Atlanta, Ga., the site of next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship major, the 26-year-old will have a lot of time this evening to soak in the past week.
“This week is going to be huge heading into a major. I knew I was playing some great golf. It’s a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season,” said Maguire. “All in all, my game is in really good shape and I feel like this was really good preparation heading into a major week.”