Call it a "double American eagle"? Two American aces?
After Team USA's Xander Schauffele won gold in the men's tournament last week, 23-year-old World No. 1 Nelly Korda earned the United States a second golf gold in the women's tournament. Closing out the fourth and final round, she hit two-under par for a 17-under tournament total.
Korda is a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour and earned her first major at the Women’s PGA Championship in June. She dominated the second round with a nine-under-par 62, tying the Olympic golf record for lowest round. Korda had maintained a solid, if not overwhelming, lead at the end of round three, scoring a two-under par for a 15-under total.
That didn't provide much breathing room in round four, which saw Korda struggle to stay on top. At least a dozen other golfers were well within striking distance of gold, spurring the top of the field to play more aggressively. Nelly took the opposite approach: Showing nerves, she hesitated often and opted for a more conservative approach. This proved disastrous during the seventh hole, in which the American double-bogeyed and erased her two-under lead completely. In doing so, she briefly tied New Zealand's Lydia Ko -- the Rio silver medalist -- and India's Aditi Ashok for first.
Korda bounced back immediately, with birdies on the eighth, ninth, and tenth holes -- and then held tight to first place.
Ko, in particular, played amazing golf this final round, with a five-under halfway through. By the 15th hole, she was tied for second -- locked in a dead-heat with Japan's Inami Mone, both of whom held a six-under par for a 15-under total.
Just as Inami and Korda were finishing the 17th hole, the horn blew -- and a predicted thunderstorm made an appearance. Thick rain drops splattered the camera and players exited the course for a 30-minute delay.
Play returned at 12:15 AM ET -- and, almost immediately, Inami sunk a birdie, tying for first. Ko's subsequent birdie put her in position for bronze. But Korda's attempt at a birdie on the 17th hole went too far, forcing the final hole to determine a winner.
With an opportunity to take first on the 18th hole, Inami instead sunk a ball into a sandpit. She finished the hole with a bogey, a 16-under par, and tied with Ko for second place. Korda hit a straight shot down the course -- and completed the 18th hole with a two-under, final-round 69.
As well as a gold medal.
Asked what she proved today in a post-competition interview, Korda said quite simply: "[I have] a lot of fight."
By clinching gold, Korda became the first American woman to win an Olympic golf medal since Margaret Abbott in 1900.
Updates on silver and gold to come ...