Saturday, May 25, 2024
Homesoccer newsNelly Korda returns at LPGA major to face history and expectations, on...

Nelly Korda returns at LPGA major to face history and expectations, on her terms


One might argue that the LPGA’s bye week was detrimental to the hottest player in golf.

The hottest player in golf would not be that one.

After playing thee consecutive weeks, and winning three consecutive events, Nelly Korda was wiped.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired,” she said Tuesday at the Chevron Championship. “I would wake up and I was ready to go back to bed but I couldn’t. It’s almost to the point where you just can’t sleep; you’re just overly tired.”

Excellence is exhausting.

Korda is on a run not witnessed on the LPGA since the aughts. Prior to that much-needed – and well-deserved – break, Korda had swept a trio of scheduled events upon the tour’s return to the U.S.

Only four players have won four consecutive tournaments on the LPGA calendar:

  • Mickey Wright (1962, 1963)
  • Kathy Whitworth (1969)
  • Annika Sorenstam (2001)
  • Lorena Ochoa (2008)

Korda also won prior to the Asia swing, which gives her four straight wins in as many starts. Two players in tour history have won five in a row:

  • Nancy Lopez (1978)
  • Annika Sorenstam (2004-05)

Notably, Sorenstam’s record-tying fifth straight victory came in this event, when it was known as the Kraft Nabisco and contested in Rancho Mirage, California. She won by eight.

By that that time, Sorenstam had already cemented her legacy (that was the 59th of her 72 tour titles). Korda, meanwhile, is in the formative stage of her career.

She has 12 LPGA wins, including a major (2021 KPMG Women’s PGA). She’s the world No. 1. She’s become the face of the tour. Now seems like her time.

Competitively, she wants more. In terms of breaking through to a broader audience, she hopes being Nelly will suffice.

“Listen, I feel like for me, the way that I promote the game is just the way I am. I’m very true to myself. I’m never going to do something I’m not really comfortable with. Obviously, I love seeing all the kids and I love promoting the game,” she said.

“I’m always going to stay true to myself, and hopefully that way do I promote the game.”

Korda mentioned multiple times during her press conference in The Woodlands, Texas, that being inside her “bubble” allows her to be most proficient.

On the course, that’s with caddie Jason McDede. With some inspirational notes (which she didn’t want to reveal) in her yardage book, they navigate the architectural designs – this week, the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Carlton Woods.

Helping navigate life, is the family bubble. During her week off, Korda said her parents, Petr and Regina, made sure she didn’t “overdo it” when it came to practice. She also spent time with older sister Jessica, who is on maternity leave from the tour, having given birth to her first child in February.

“It was a nice week. Tried to live the Florida life for a few days: beach and chillin’,” Nelly said.

“Having my sister come in for those few days really, really helped.”

She also took notice of what happened in the men’s first major, where Scottie Scheffler – like Nelly, on a dominant run in early ’24 – won his second Masters title.

But, in relation to Scheffler and his achievements, more than the what, it’s the how. Even more to the point, it’s the who.

“I love his morals, I love his attitude out there. I just love the way he goes about his business. He inspires so many around him, including myself,” Korda said.

“He wants to win every tournament he tees it up in. That’s every girl that’s out here competing, too. I think that you just have to go about your business. You can get lost in the articles, lost in the expectations, but I think if you just stick to your true self, I feel like you can live in your own bubble and enjoy it a lot more.”

After a respite, the expectations are back. The articles are being published. The questions are being asked.

About burdens and obligations.

About records.

About her place in history.

About transforming the women’s game.

To each, she offered a succinct response, answers that wouldn’t add any undue pressure or cause a stir.

And she told the truth of truths in sports — the one thing that has people talking about her in the first place. “At the end of the day,” she said, “everything is about results.”





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