Three weeks away for a professional golfer can feel like a lifetime, but for Nelly Korda, the break was much appreciated. The Rolex Rankings No. 1 has been nursing a slight shoulder injury — the byproduct of the 23-year-old’s non-stop travel and competition schedule — and was grateful to step away from the sticks for a bit for a relaxing, refreshing reprieve.
“There were so many weeks, so much travel, so much luggage that I had to get off the carousel that (my shoulder) was just overused and I needed to rest,” said Korda. “My body has actually been pretty decent. My mind, I've definitely been very tired just because I have been in contention in big events, and you just go through so much pressure you just get a bit more tired. And the travel, different time zones, just kind of gets to you. I was definitely needing that break, needing to sleep in a little longer, which felt really nice.”
But the big news of the day — the upcoming rebrand of the ANA Inspiration, the first and most storied of the LPGA Tour’s five majors — was also on Korda’s mind. She recognizes that the newly named Chevron Championship, boasting a purse of $5 million and expanded network TV coverage, will be an “amazing” source of progress for the women’s game. But she also lamented the move from the desert mostly because of her personal connection with her host family.
“I’m definitely excited, but I'm obviously disappointed too. I think it's kind of 50/50 just because I love Palm Springs. I love the host family that I stay with. They're like my second parents,” she said. “I just love the traditions, jumping into Poppie's Pond, seeing all the winners when you walk up to the 18th green. There is just so much tradition there. So it is a little sad, but we're also very grateful to Chevron for doubling the purse and supporting us as well.”
With the Cognizant Founders Cup on tap, Korda has her sights on tackling Mountain Ridge Country Club, a new stop for the tournament at a course with which players aren’t familiar. The major-style setup is one that bodes well for the KPMG PGA champion and the learning curve won’t be as steep since Korda is one of the longer hitters in the game. But new venues always pose new challenges and after almost an inch of rain, the soft conditions are going to toughen an already tricky track, something that a refreshed Korda feels ready for.
“The greens are really big and they're very undulated,” said Korda. “You're going to have to hit it into the right sections on the green. It's going to play long. I know they've gotten a lot of rain recently so it's soft, too. It's playing kind of like a major because of the tough greens and the length. I like that it gives an advantage to the longer players. But you never know. You still have to hit really good shots. You still have to make the putts. So it's anyone's game at the end of the day if they're doing all of that. You’re definitely going to have to be more patient. I haven't played in three weeks as well, so getting back into tournament golf and being under pressure is different. I’m just telling myself that it's okay to make mistakes. Everyone is going to make mistakes. There is always another hole, another shot that you can take advantage of. And to take it one shot at a time. As boring as it sounds, it's usually the best way to do it.”