Ladies golf: Jessica Korda follows father’s lead and clinches Australian title

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AMERICAN Jessica Korda claimed her maiden professional title by winning the Australian Women’s Open following a six-way play-off.

The 18-year-old, whose father Petr won the Australian Open tennis in the city in 1998, clinched the title with a 25-foot birdie putt on the second sudden-death play-off hole at a rain-soaked Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Korda started the day holding a one-shot lead but, after recording a one-over-par 74 yesterday, she found herself tied with Americans Stacy Lewis (70) and Brittany Lincicome (71), Paraguayan Julieta Granada (71), and South Koreans Seo Hee-kyung (73) and Ryu So-yeon (73) at the end of the final round.

However, the teenager emerged victorious from the play-off and as a result could now climb from 285th in the world rankings into the top 30. Korda, whose previous best finish was a tie for 16th, admitted she was “overwhelmed” with her first career win.

She said: “A lot of the hard work I put in in the off season, all the times I was down last year, it is all worth it. It made me grow up.

“It made me realise that you’ve got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment.

“[During the play-off] I was really calm. I knew what the putt did because I’d had it before and it did not move.

“I was a little higher up and more to the right. I knew the line and I knew the speed.

“All I had to do was just hit it. It started breaking. I thought ‘Oh my goodness no, don’t lip out, don’t break too early’. I don’t even know what side of the hole it hit. I was overwhelmed by everything.”

Janice Moodie, the sole Scot in the field, finished well down the field after following a damaging 80 on the second day with closing rounds of 76 and 79 for a total of 308.