It sounds like it happened on a whim, but for Nelly Korda, younger sister of Jessica Korda and the top-ranked female junior player in the country, turning pro was always coming quickly.
“I decided two days ago when I was having breakfast,” Korda said of her decision. “I just got ready and tried to make a statement, so I did that this morning right before my pro-am.”
This week Korda is in Beaumont, Calif., to play in the IOA Championship, the season-opener on the Symetra Tour. She has status on the LPGA’s developmental circuit because of her victory last fall in the second stage of LPGA Q-School. (She did not advance to the final stage because she will not turn 18 until July.
By turning pro, the younger Korda gave up an opportunity to play on Captain Robin Burke’s U.S. Curtis Cup team at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Ireland, but she hasn’t looked back on the decision.
“I was texting with (Jessica) this morning, and she was like, ‘I’m so excited. Now get your butt out here,’” the younger Korda said.
Even though she doesn’t yet have an agent, Korda can expect to receive sponsor exemptions for several LPGA Tour events. She is already in the field for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in April because of a victory last year at the Yani Tseng Invitational on the AJGA.
If she wins in one of those starts before her July 28 birthday, there is a high likelihood her petition to Commissioner Mike Whan for early admittance to the LPGA would be accepted. Whan made age exceptions for Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson but only after they won.
Until then, Korda seems happy to play on the Symetra Tour, where she will make her debut tomorrow, and where she is, in her words, “very excited to have ‘pro’ by my name.”
Korda speaks with Bret Lasky of the Symetra Tour about her decision to turn pro: