Home

Golf

Nelly Korda, Golf’s Unsung Hero Who Has Fallen on the Wrong End of the Coverage Battle

Published 04/02/2024, 11:30 AM EDT

Follow Us

USA Today via Reuters

The distance between Houston and Gilbert is about 1000 miles. The differences between Memorial Park Golf Course and Seville Golf and Country Club are quite stark as well. The former, a course with a long history, suddenly got renewed attention because of a schedule change. The latter was barely making its ‘debut’ in the professional arena; the 2024 Ford Championship was the first professional tournament held on the course. Yet, the fairways and greens on both courses were witnessing history thanks to Scottie Scheffler and Nelly Korda.

Both were on the hunt for their third consecutive victory. Both dominated the course with sheer force. And both were chasing history as well. The stakes couldn’t have been much higher before the penultimate event of the season’s first major for the male and female circuits. On Sunday, Scheffler faltered, but Korda was flawless. However, there was a significant imbalance in the broadcasting weightage.

What was at stake for Nelly Korda?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Scottie Scheffler was coming off a season with 17 top-10s, including two silverware, and the PGA Tour Player of the Year award under his belt. Nelly Korda started the 2024 season with hopes of a strong bounce-back after going winless last year. Three starts later, she had two titles under her belt, heading to the Ford Championship. A third would make her part of history.

She was the first player since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016 to win three consecutive titles.

Trending

Get instantly notified of the hottest Golf stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

Only the fourth player since the turn of the century to win three before April.

This is the first American since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win three straight tournaments.

And this again is the first American since JoAnne Carner in 1980 to win three times before April.

While Korda called it one of her “least stressful” wins, the day started with uncertainty. On a soggy day, the 25-year-old started two shots behind the lead—a sort of opposite trajectory from Scottie Scheffler. The climb was slow and steady. The one-time Major winner carded 7-under 65, the second lowest round of the day, to effectively settle the match.

Korda dominated the field, hitting 77% of fairways and 79% of greens on her way to victory. In her last three final rounds, the 11-time LPGA Tour winner has hit 74% of greens in regulation. The singular dominance of Korda is astonishing. Taylor Zarzour at PGA Tour Sirius XM Radio said, “We should go all in” with her three-peat. Korda deserves as much attention and celebration as Caitlin Clark’s rise has witnessed. And, yet, the Ford Championship received late coverage marred by commercials.

The Ford Championship stayed in the shadows

Regardless of whichever way we see it, Korda’s historic runup didn’t get the eyeballs it very well deserved. While on the other side of the Pond, the coverage moved to the LPGA Tour straight from the Texas Children’s Houston Open, the case wasn’t the same on this side of the Atlantic.

Instead, the Golf Channel broadcast showed the PGA Tour Champions, the Galleri Classic, where Retief Goosen clinched a one-shot victory over Steven Alker. There are big names on the Champions Tour: Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, and John Daly, but none were in contention.

The TV ratings for the PGA Tour Champions are historically low, and Ryan Lavner of NBC Sports jokingly suggested that it might be about time to obliterate this. If anything, the golf community’s reaction to Chris DiMarco’s complaint about senior Tour purses quite clearly evinces sentiment about PGA Tour Champions. Regardless, even before the Champions Tour coverage was over, fans were demanding that Golf Channel move to the 2024 Ford Championship.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

When Golf Channel did cover Nelly Korda’s historic run, the usual problems cropped up. Commercials took away a significant portion of the coverage. The issue with frequent commercials isn’t just that. It’s also that cutting abruptly in the middle just compounds the problem already created by a dwindling attention span. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

This wasn’t the first time for women’s golf. Last year, the QBE Shootout received more TV time than the US Women’s Open. While weather delay was sighted as the reason behind moving the broadcasting times, many pointed out that the QBE Shootout could’ve been shown tape-delayed. The LPGA Tour, for its part, has landed big-money sponsors. The purse is now higher than ever. The corporate interest also speaks in favor of its growing popularity. Fortunately, the outcry from not just fans but analysts as well shows that there is a strong tide in favor of a change. Perhaps, Nelly Korda will get her due. 

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

813Articles

One take at a time

Parnab Bhattacharya is a Beat Writer at EssentiallySports in the Golf Division. With four years of writing experience, he is now exploring his deep-rooted love for the gentleman’s sport. Parnab's area of expertise is his predictive and perspective pieces, where he explores all things golf, diving deep into the whys and whats behind players' and Tours' moves in the sport, and unflinchingly voicing his take.
Show More>

Edited by:

Sheldon Pereira

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT