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KPMG performance insights behind the rankings: Nelly Korda makes history | LPGA

KPMGMake no mistake about it. Nelly Korda rewrites the LPGA history book.

By winning her second career major at the Chevron Championship last month, Nelly Korda became the third player in LPGA Tour history to win in five consecutive starts, joining legends Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam. Only Tiger Woods (three times) has accomplished the feat on the PGA Tour since 1950.

Korda’s brilliant performance has cemented her place at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. The difference in average points per event between first place (12.18) and number two Lilia Vu (6.42) is currently greater than that between Vu and the 150th ranked player (0.78). Korda is the first American player to win five tournaments in an LPGA season since Juli Inkster in 1999, and she did it all before early May.

How did Korda’s game go from excellent to historically dominant? Providing the most comprehensive performance data ever available in professional women’s golf, KPMG Performance Insights offers a look at the empirical reasons driving Korda’s sprint to the top of the sport.

Elite approach play

The biggest reason for Korda’s better results is more precise iron play. It’s not like she was a bad approach player in the past. In both 2022 and 2023, she performed well above average, gaining approximately two-tenths of a stroke per round each season. That was good enough to finish 58th and 56th among qualified players.

Korda has gone from good to excellent in this facet of the game in 2024. She has averaged more than four times as many strokes this season with her +0.90 approach game per round. Last season, Korda landed positive hits in 56 percent of her rounds played. This season that percentage is 67 percent.

The LPGA Tour’s green-in-regulation percentage this season after a hit fairway is 73.5%. When Nelly is on the fairway, she hits the green 83.7% of the time. Her advantage over her peers who follow a missed channel is even more important. After a missed fairway on a par 4 or 5, Korda finds the putting surface in regulation to be at a 61.5% clip. Her peers only do this 48.5% of the time.

Korda in particular is deadly this season with her scoring clubs. From 100 to 125 yards, she hits the ball an average of two feet closer to the hole than her competition. Overall, her average closeness has improved over all distances by more than five feet from last season. This has given her buckets of birdie opportunities, which she has converted 34.4% of the time in 2024 – the fourth highest percentage of any player.

Balanced shine

Korda has long been one of the key drivers of the golf ball. She led the LPGA Tour in strokes off the tee in 2022 and has followed that with top-10 rankings in 2023 (sixth) and 2024 (second). Total Driving is a traditional measure that combines a player’s ranking in average distance and accuracy off the tee. From 2018 through 2023, Korda never finished a season outside the top 10 in that metric.

Pairing excellent performance off the tee with elite iron play is a rare occurrence, even for the best players in the world. Korda is one of only two players currently ranked in the top 15 on the LPGA Tour in both shots off the tee and strokes gained (Haeran Ryu is the other).

But Korda isn’t just excellent at these two phases of her game. Statistically, she is also the best player on the greens on the LPGA Tour in 2024. Nelly is gaining 0.84 strokes around the green per round this season, the most of any player. Her average of 2.33 tee-to-green strokes per round is more than half a stroke better than any other player – bigger than the gap between No. 2 (Megan Khang) and No. 11 (Carlota Ciganda) in that metric .

She can get even better

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this stretch is that Korda has the potential to improve on what she has done during her historic win streak. Among qualified players, Korda has one of the lowest putt-make percentages from 5-10 feet on the LPGA Tour this season. The total production percentage of that range this season is 56.7%. Nelly makes 40.4% of her putts from that distance.

This shows how fantastic Korda has been as a ball striker in 2024. Korda puts herself in so many favorable positions with her drives, approach shots and chips that she can easily overcome a missed putt here and there. And despite the relative struggles from five feet to three feet, Korda is still gaining almost half a stroke per round on the greens this year (+0.49), nearly doubling her average from a season ago (+0. 26).

Probability and perspective

When a player builds a historic streak like Korda’s, it can be easy to lose sight of a simple fact: winning a golf tournament is extremely difficult.

KPMG Performance Insights has introduced AI-powered predictive analytics to the LPGA Tour this season, providing broadcasters with pre-tournament and live odds of player results and other key metrics such as the expected cut line. These insights tell us that in each of the last four events she has won, Korda had an 8 to 10.1% chance of advancing to victory.

The varying tournament conditions and course setups during Korda’s streak add an extra layer to its brilliance. All five wins came in different states, with putting surfaces ranging from Poa annua to Bermuda. At each tournament a different player finished second. When you look at the enormous amount of time it has lasted, compare it to any other major sport. Her streak started on NFL Championship Sunday and lasted until the completion of the NFL Draft several months later.

Golf fans are witnessing history this season and KPMG Performance Insights is helping tell the story behind Nelly Korda’s incredible play.