Jessica Korda and China a Good Match
The Chinese, as all golf devotees know, are getting into the tournament business, and they’re not just rushing in without knowing what they’re doing. They’re always like that – never going on to the international stage without doing their homework perfectly. That sense of perfection extends to the creation of new courses and new events as well, as evidenced by the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course on Hainan Island, the southernmost, smallest, and among the most beautiful in China. Designed by Mark Hollinger, it’s a jewel, and the Chinese should be proud of it.
The country had quite an inauguration last year when it held its first international LPGA event, and one of their own won it – what a start for them that was. This week, the Blue Bay had its inaugural year as well, but Shanshan Feng isn’t winning it this time, at least not yet – twenty-one-year-old American, Jessica Korda is.
There are one or two interesting points one might make about Jessica Korda. First, she tends to win suddenly. We go along for a little while without carrying any trophies away, and then she comes in with a round the bionic woman would be proud of, fierce and unblemished. Today, for example, she shot a bogey free 66, with birdies on the first three, and on 6, 8, and 14 – in special Korda style, that included a 65 footer on 14.
The other thing one could notice about Korda is that she tends to play well in beautiful settings. Her last victory, if memory serves me correctly was in Nassau, at the Pure Silk Bahamas. The new course on Hainan Island is flat-out gorgeous, more evidence that the Chinese have prepared carefully for this. According to Korda, playing at Jian Lake is like being in Hawaii, only in China. Her other LPGA victories include the Australian Women’s Open (some nice scenery there, to be sure), and the Airbus LPGA Classic. Likewise, Korda is not your placid type of champion. She made that crystal clear in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open by holding several very public set-tos with her caddie, and then firing him part way through the round, and bringing her boyfriend out of the gallery to carry the bag the rest of the way. This is not a wallflower we’re talking about.
There are some intriguing side facts developing that could make the next three days of the Blue Bay even more interesting. For one, Shanshan Feng is one stroke back, and that’s scary. For another, Michelle Wie has rejoined the tour as of last week (when she played quite well in knocking the rust off, finishing 5th), and could be ready to make another run at a first.
Interesting by her absence is Inbee Park, who has taken the week off, but is on the verge of replacing Stacy Lewis as number one in the world. To me, those rankings move slowly, and I’m not exactly sure how they are calculated, but apparently, Inbee Park has the right strategy – win, win, win, place, place, rest – win, win, win, or at least it seems that way.
In another interesting twist, Danielle Kang won a Buick in the first round. It’s her second ace this year, and a good strategy when you really think of it. Whether she wins anything or not, keep this up and she can open a Buick dealership.
With all of the interesting possibilities this week, however, I’m looking for Jessica Korda to show staying power, as she has done before. She can put four rounds together as well as anyone when she’s playing hot, and there are enough palm trees and beautiful water around to make that happen for her. A generally fearless Korda and a beautifully prepared China look like a good combination