Korda taken by surprise at return to world number one

Being ranked the world’s best golfer is a remarkable achievement but Nelly Korda, who will return to competition at this week’s Pelican Women’s Championship in Florida, said on Tuesday she had no idea she had reclaimed top spot in the rankings.

The 23-year-old American, who will headline a stacked field in Belleair for her first event in three weeks, said she only learned of her new status while walking off the 18th green at Pelican Golf Club during her Monday pro-am.

“I was like, ‘No, you’re joking. How is that possible?'” Korda told reporters. “So it was a little bit of a shock to me.”

After just two weeks on top, South Korean Ko Jin-young fell back down to the second spot in the rankings — which are based on a two-year rolling period — and lost her crown to Korda for the second time this year.

Korda has collected three wins on the LPGA this year, including her maiden major triumph, as well as the gold medal in the women’s golf competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Ko, however, is the hottest player in golf with four wins since July.

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“I was pretty dominant in the summer, and now she’s dominant,” said Korda. “So I think that is just how sports go. You kind of pass on the baton in a sense, and someone passes you, and you just try to battle it out.”

Ko Jin-young is still hungry for more

Ko Jin-young has no intention of taking her foot off the gas after winning four of her last seven tournaments, she said on Tuesday.

Her playoff triumph at the BMW Championship in her native South Korea last month delivered her an 11th career win on the LPGA Tour and she briefly recaptured the world number one spot before being supplanted by Nelly Korda.

After taking time to celebrate with her family and friends, the 26-year-old got right back to work with her swing coach and is now focused on capturing her fifth title since July at this week’s Pelican Women’s Championship in Florida.

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“Seven out of 10. Not bad, but not good,” she told reporters when asked how satisfied she is with her overall performance this season.

Asked what she wished she had accomplished but did not, she made it clear she has big goals for herself.

“More major championships, like U.S. Open and KPMG Championship, and British (Open) and Grand Slam and, I’m done,” she said with a laugh.

She said the best part of winning is how it makes those close to her feel.

“If I get win, I’m happy, but more than that, I’m happy for those around me, so that’s my motivation,” she said.

“And even family or friends or my manager or my caddie, (David) Brooker, they going to be more happy than me.

“So I like to see them smiling all the time,” she said while flashing a smile of her own.

The Pelican Women’s Championship begins on Thursday.

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