Canada’s Alena Sharp credits her mental game with her best LPGA finish in nearly two years.
The 37-year-old from Hamilton, Ont., shot a 68 on Sunday to finish in a tie for sixth place at the Women’s Australian Open, her third best LPGA Tour result and best since she was fifth in Hawaii in 2017.
“I really tried to stay in the moment, one shot at a time, not thinking about outcome, and it really has been a good start to the year for me,” Sharp said. “I worked hard this winter, so it’s nice to show that all the prep that I did is showing in the results … while not even thinking about the results.
“That’s kind of what I was doing a few years ago, so I’m back there mentally, and want to keep doing that the rest of the year.”
Nelly Korda claimed a two-stroke victory with a 5-under 67 at The Grange Golf Club, finishing with a 17-under total of 271. Defending champion Jin Young Ko was second after a 64. Jaclyn Lee of Calgary finished in a group tied for 22nd.
Sharp had five birdies in the final round to finish at 10 under, playing with a consistency that might have eluded her in previous seasons.
“Golf is definitely a mental game. I feel like if one thing’s going well, then something else isn’t, and that’s been my game the last couple of years,” she said. “And right now, I have everything rolling nicely, and my mental game is fresh coming off a nice off-season, I got in the gym a lot, I feel like I’m in really good shape, I’m hitting it further, so there’s so many positives.”
Korda, meanwhile, added to her family’s impressive sports pedigree Down Under with her victory.
Korda led by three strokes after the third round, increased it to four with a tap-in birdie on the 10th and added a 25-foot birdie on the 11th to make it a lead of five.
She had a third consecutive birdie on the 12th to help claim a two-stroke victory with a 5-under 67 at The Grange Golf Club, finishing with a 17-under total of 271.
Korda’s father Petr was an Australian Open men’s tennis champion, winning the tournament in 1998. Her golfing sister Jessica won the Australian Open seven years ago.
And her tennis-playing brother Sebastian won the Australian Open boys’ singles title last year.
“I’m just happy to finally be a part of the club,” said the 20-year-old Korda at the trophy presentations. “There’s maybe something in the air here. We love coming down under and we really enjoy our time here.
“I just got off the phone with my dad and he’s like ‘well, congratulations, you’re part of the Korda Slam now’.”
Petr and mother Regina, also a pro tennis player who represented Czechoslovakia at the 1988 Olympics, watched their daughter’s triumph from their home on the west coast of Florida.
Jessica, currently sidelined from the LPGA Tour because of a wrist injury, watched from Florida’s east coast. And Sebastian tuned in from Turkey moments before he played a Futures Tour match.
“When I was left out (of winning in Australia) they didn’t try to rub it in too much,” Nelly Korda said. “Now that we all have a win down here, it’s going to be really special … obviously there was pressure but I think I finally carved my own way.”
The Women’s Australian Open tweeted before the final round began a photo collage of Petr, Jessica and Sebastian doing what they called the “Korda Kick” – actually a scissor kick – after winning each of their titles, and adding that they hoped they hadn’t jinxed Nelly.
No worries there. Her lead was reduced to two strokes at one stage late on the front nine and again at the end, but Korda held on for the win after receiving help from afar from her sister.
And sure enough, keeping it in the family, Nelly was photographed doing a scissor kick after the trophy presentations.
Jessica Korda tweeted to her 81,500 followers just before Nelly made the turn at The Grange, at about 11:30 p.m on the East Coast of the U.S: “Who else is staying up with me?”
Jessica’s first reply came from someone who said “we might be needing a quadruple Korda-Jump picture.”
Nelly Korda said she spoke to her 25-year-old sister by phone not long after she finished her round.
“I couldn’t really hear what she was saying, she was screaming so much,” Nelly Korda said.
With files from The Associated Press.