You could always see the fire in her eyes, even when she still had braces on her teeth. Nelly Korda qualified to play in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack as a 14-year-old. She made the cut along with a couple of other slightly older amateurs named Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson before finishing tied for 64th, limping in with a 79-81 weekend.
That entire crop of teenagers played better on the Southampton shore than former world No. 1s Yani Tseng and Se Ri Pak and major champions (past and future) Suzann Petterson and Pernilla Lindberg. But of the amateurs left on that weekend six summers ago (a group that also included Doris Chen), Nelly might have been the most overlooked. The only reasons to watch her were the striking resemblance she had to her older sister, Jessica, who had joined the LPGA in 2011, and the fact that, even at 14 with a mouth full of orthodontia, she had the look. That Tiger Woods-type stare, like the tip of a welding torch. Eyes of a killer. Or a future champion.
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