Tokyo Olympic Champion Nelly Korda, who surprised herself with a return to world number one this week, will continue her battle for Player of the Year on Thursday at the LPGA Pelican Championship.

The tournament at the Par-70 Pelican Club in suburban Tampa is the penultimate event of the LPGA season, ending next week with the Tour Championship.

Due to losing points in an idle week, Korda moved ahead of South Korean Ko Jin-Young, who won the last two LPGA events at the Founders Cup and in South Korea and will defend the Tour Championship crown next week.

“I was super shocked,” said Korda. “When I finished my training session, someone came up to me and told me I was number one again. I thought, ‘No, you’re kidding. How is that possible?'”

Ko has a narrow lead over the 23-year-old American in the Player of the Year points battle, but Korda doesn’t keep track of where to finish to take the lead.

“Good golf, in a way, solves it all,” said Korda. “I won’t worry about anything, no trophies, nothing until I hit the first shot and hopefully pocket the last putt on the 72nd hole.”

Korda has won three LPGA titles this year, including a major at the Women’s PGA Championship in June, and Olympic gold. But she has only played twice since Tokyo.

“I’ve had an odd schedule for the last two months when I haven’t played a lot,” said Korda. “I’m just trying to get back into competitive golf.”

Ko has won four times in the last four months and impressed Korda with her dominating performances.

“It was really super exciting to watch,” said Korda. “It was super cool to see how dominant and how well she played.

The story goes on

“When you’re out here playing week after week, you appreciate how well she plays. She was on the run and it will take really, really good golf to catch her.

“She just knows how to get the ball in and makes no mistakes. Her putting is pretty amazing. I think she’s just a really solid player.”

One trophy that neither Ko nor Korda can win is the Vare trophy for the low point average. You would fight for it too, but none will be able to play the minimum number of rounds required to qualify.

Korda said she never thought of adding anything to her schedule in order to qualify.

“My schedule was crazy enough,” she said. “I had to move out of Portland at the last minute because I was just not doing well at Walmart.

“Well, no, I don’t think I could have played more events because my body was just so tired. It kind of sucks that it is.”

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