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Nelly Korda wins gold as Team USA dominates golf in Tokyo

Closing out the fourth and final round, she hit two-under par for a 17-under competition total.
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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 competition 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.

Image: GOLF-OLY-2020-2021-TOKYO
USA's Nelly Korda, center, celebrates with her sister Jessica Korda, left, after winning the gold medal in round 4 of the women's golf individual stroke play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Kawagoe, Japan, on August 7, 2021.KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP - Getty Images

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 other leaders to play more aggressively. Nelly took the opposite approach: Showing nerves, she hesitated often and opted for a more conservative strategy. 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 a.m. 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 jump to 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.