Jun 21, 2013 | Ashely Ludwig won her first Ladies European Tour event in almost three years Sunday, holding off a burst of late charging from Olympia Safeway Classic champion Morgan Pressel to win the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship.
After finishing tied for the lead with Nelly Korda atop the final-round leaderboard with a 4-under-par 68, they would play 25 holes in three alternate shot situations. LPGA rookie Nelly Korda rallied for a four-way playoff after cruising at one point with a seven-shot lead. She beat Pressel, Stella Steffens and Karrie Webb with pars on the first three playoff holes.
Korda, who has seven LPGA Tour wins and is ranked No. 23 in the world, has taken seven tournaments this season and finished in the top 10 in eight of them. The 18-year-old Floridian earned $264,000 for her sixth tour victory and first since the Canadian Women’s Open on Aug. 5, 2012.
Nelly Korda is the first teenager to win the LPGA Classic since Diann Mayo in 1995.
“It’s amazing,” Korda said. “The last time I came to this place, I remember I made the cut with two holes to go and had nothing but happy memories. This time I feel like I played one really good round and so I really didn’t think anything of it. But they didn’t count and I felt like that helped a lot.
“It’s a nice start, but it’s just the beginning. I’m just not really paying attention to it because I think it’s going to go down for a little while.”
Korda, of Lexington, N.C., finished the tour year with a 2-under 70. She won her first LPGA Tour event in a playoff over Johnson Wagner at the U.S. Women’s Open in June.
“This win feels fantastic,” Korda said. “This has been one of my goals my whole life. Now I get to watch my mom (Gaby Korda) play a little bit.”
Korda won the LPGA Championship in 2011 in her home state of South Carolina. Korda has one stroke to spare in the LPGA’s point standings, which she earned by winning the Canadian Women’s Open in Canada in June.
The eight-year professional has a strong six-shot margin over Webb and is a whopping 10 shots ahead of Jeong Jang in the race for the season points title. But Webb is chalking up points instead of placing her third in the season points standings.
“I didn’t really take care of this golf course the way I was supposed to,” Webb said. “I played really well on 16 and 17. I’ve just got to be aggressive.”
Pressel, the leader after each of the first five rounds, faded badly in the final round. On the par-4 18th, she missed a two-foot birdie attempt after her second shot plugged into a bunker.
“I played like I should be in a championship at the top of the leaderboard,” Pressel said. “I had a few great thoughts as I was hitting my second shot into 18, but I didn’t hit a good shot. And I missed the putt. So that definitely killed my momentum.”
McNiel and Korda were eight shots ahead of Steffens with three holes to play. Steffens birdied the par-5 12th, but McNiel birdied No. 13 and Korda birdied No. 14 to remain in control. Steffens birdied 16 and 18.
Safeway Classic Women’s Champ. summary
McNiel birdied Nos. 15 and 16 and Korda birdied No. 17 to put the chase on. Steffens birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to lead after 27 holes, but McNiel birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to force overtime.