Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon | Pelican Women’s Championship

In a professional golf year that sparked a lot of magic – emotional wins in majors by Hideki Matsuyama and Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm welcoming his son into the world with a U.S. Open victory, golden moments in the Olympics from Xander Schauffele and Nelly Korda and the United States team’s romp in the Ryder Cup, one could be forgiven for figuring the best parts of the golf season were behind us.

That idea changed last weekend in the Pelican’s Women’s Championship in Belleair, Fla. There we had a finish for the ages, that rare sort of golf entertainment that has everyone on the edge of their seats – and the players on the edge of their sanity.

It was the kind of golf that makes you want to rush out to the garage, throw the clubs in the trunk and play somewhere, anywhere, immediately. Maybe even in the rain.

Korda was the last woman standing when the day of Florida sunshine ended, but, on the 17th, she had been reduced to a golfer very much like the rest of us. In a word, she was awful. In two words, she was incredibly awful.

She stepped to the tee on the 17th tied for the lead and left the green much, much later two shots behind with only one hole to play. That fall came courtesy of a crazy triple-bogey that might seem more or less normal for the average duffer but is inexplicably goofy for the woman holding the Olympic gold medal and is the probable pick for LPGA Player of the Year.

Her second shot on the par 4 went awry, then her third shot dropped into a bunker. On the green, she missed a gimme putt and suddenly had a seven.

That’s not the best part of the story, however. Korda rallied to make a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 to join Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim and Lydia Ko in a playoff. Korda repeated the birdie putt on 18 to win the playoff on the first extra hole as Thompson, who has made a sad habit of sagging in big moments, missed a short putt that would have extended play.

So Korda was cold and hot, steady and not, a chump and a champ, all in the span of three holes. It was entertaining for onlookers as some of the world’s best players danced along a tightrope toward the final putts, and it was excruciating for those who didn’t win, particularly Thompson, who now has wandered through 38 tournaments without a victory.

The women tee it up for the final tournament of the season this weekend in Naples, Fla. As last weekend made abundantly clear, you might want to tune in. No telling what might happen.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.