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Going for fourth straight LPGA win, Nelly Korda faces Leona Maguire in T-Mobile Match Play finals

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Nelly Korda raced out to an early lead and beat the self-destructing Narin An, 4 and 3, on Saturday in the semifinals of the T-Mobile Match Play to put herself a match away from her fourth straight LPGA Tour victory.

The world’s top-ranked player will play Leona Maguire in the final Sunday (click here for Golf Channel/Peacock times). The Irish star beat Sei Young Kim, 3 and 2.

“I know she’s going to be fiery,” Korda said. “That’s just how Leona is. She’s a great competitor. I think it’ll be great to share the stage with her, and hopefully it’ll be a good show.”

Korda is trying to become the first LPGA Tour player to win four consecutive starts since Lorena Ochoa in 2008. The record is five, set by Nancy Lopez in 1978 and matched by Annika Sorenstam in 2004-05.

Korda took seven weeks off including the Asian part of the schedule after winning in January in her hometown of Bradenton, Florida. That means a victory this weekend would be her third consecutive in a scheduled event. Four players share the record of four straight, with Mickey Wright doing it twice.

Should Korda win, she will have the chance to equal that record in two weeks at The Chevron Championship, the year’s first major.

“Nelly is the best in the world right now,” said Maguire, 3-1 against Korda in team matches for Europe in the Solheim Cup, though they haven’t met in singles. “She’s on a really hot streak. It’s been incredibly impressive what she’s been doing in the past few weeks.

“It’s going to be a really tough battle tomorrow. I’ve got a big challenge ahead of me. I’m excited. I mean, that’s why you practice. You want to play the best players in the world and that’s what Nelly is.”

Korda was never tested in the semifinals, going 5 up through seven holes, needing only two birdies to take that lead. An bogeyed the first three holes before steadying herself and even winning a hole with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole.

That, however, was a temporary reprieve. An was never able to overcome the early deficit to seriously threaten Korda, who played the backside 3 over par.

“The back nine is a little tougher, so started to make a little bit more mistakes,” Korda said. “Fatigue started setting in it just a little.”

There was a tad more drama in the other semifinal. Maguire was 2 up through seven holes when Kim, the 2020 LPGA Tour Player of the Year, had an excellent chance to cut into the lead. But Maguire got up and down on the par-3 eighth, sinking a 12-foot par putt save to keep the advantage.

She picked up another shot when Kim bogeyed the par-4 10th, and the outcome was never truly in doubt after that.

“I think when you’re doing these 36-hole days, it’s who makes the least mistakes almost, especially on a golf course like today,” Maguire said. “Really happy how I played.”

Weather had been a major story during this tournament, and the temperature was 42 degrees with the players teed off Saturday morning in the quarterfinals. But the strong winds that plagued the previous two days was reduced to a breeze, and temps were in the 60s for the afternoon play.

Korda advanced to the semifinals by defeating Angel Yin, 3 and 2, and Maguire beat Moriya Jutanugarn, 4 and 3. Also, Kim routed Rose Zhang, 6 and 5, and An beat Minami Katsu, 1 up.