Tokyo Olympics: Korda lands golf gold as Japan hopes are scuppered at the last

By Sports Desk August 07, 2021

Not even a tropical storm could hold back Nelly Korda as the young American star held on for Olympic gold at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The world number one golfer emerged triumphant from a fierce battle in the final round, winning by a single stroke from Japan's Mone Inami and New Zealand's Lydia Ko.

Inami fired a 65 and was the co-leader at 17 under until she bogeyed the last, finding a greenside bunker with her approach and failing to put the ball close, then missing her 20-foot par putt.

That meant Korda walked down the 18th knowing she was in pole position to take gold, albeit needing to keep an eye on Ko.

Both Korda and Ko found the green safely, each with an outside chance of birdie. Neither could sink that first putt, but Korda left herself a tap-in for the title and made no mistake.

The 23-year-old then was embraced by her sister Jessica, dancing across the green to offer a fond embrace.

Jessica Korda had fired a joint best-of-the-day 64 to finish in a tie for 15th, but it was Nelly's day to triumph.

The champion set herself up for this success with a 62 in round two, and consecutive rounds of 69 on Friday and Saturday took her over the winning line.

Play was briefly suspended with two holes left to complete for the front-runners, as the nearby storm caused a 49-minute delay just while the tension was ramping up.

But fears of a Saturday washout were allayed to ensure the tournament went the distance, and with gold on 17 under going to Korda, Inami took silver in a play-off when Ko bogeyed 18, the first extra hole.

Inami and Ko, who also made 65 in the final round, had finished tied on 16 under, one ahead of India's Aditi Ashok, whose closing 68 was not enough for a medal.

Korda's triumph meant the USA achieved a golf double, with Xander Schauffele having won the men's title.

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    The world number one had not been pleased with his second round as he started Sunday tied for seventh – level with Patrick Reed after their spat earlier in the week – on eight under.

    McIlroy excelled in his third round though, starting with four consecutive birdies before producing another four in five of his final six holes.

    A bogey on the 18th was the only negative from an otherwise productive day as McIlroy ended on seven under par for the round, and 15 under overall.

    "It would be great. I love this golf course. I love this tournament. I've won here a couple of times," the Northern Irishman said after his round.

    "This is my first start of the year. I don't think I've ever won in my first start of the year – I had plenty of chances at Abu Dhabi down the road over the years, and never quite got it done.

    "So tomorrow is a nice opportunity to try to do something that I've never done before."

    English pair Callum Shinkwin and Dan Bradbury are tied for second on 12 under, going round in 67 and 68 respectively.

    Reed is among seven players tied for fourth on 11 under after his 69, joining the likes of Ian Poulter, Victor Perez and Adri Arnaus.

    After a promising first two rounds, Thomas Pieters could only record a par-score of 72 to end Sunday tied for 11th on 10 under, while Tommy Fleetwood dropped to a tie for 38th on six under after also going round in 72.

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    Coming into Saturday's final round at seven under, Homa posted seven birdies and one bogey to shoot 66, tying the round of the day and finishing with a birdie on the last to win by two strokes.

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    Coming into the event with four wins from his previous six starts, and starting Saturday at 10 under, Jon Rahm had to settle for seventh after a two-over 74, tying with former world number one Jason Day.

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    "I think I only hit two fairways. Once you can't hit fairways and the rough is quite thick, it's hard to get any control on your ball, get close to par fours. A little rusty, I need to do a bit of work on it.

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    Reed also went round in 70 on Saturday, while Spain's Adri Arnaus, Sweden's Marcus Kinhult and Connor Syme of Scotland stood tied for fourth on nine under par.

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