BOCA RATON, FLORIDA | As a 13-year-old playing for the Czech Republic at the 2006 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in South Africa’s Stellenbosch wine region, Jessica Korda made her first foray into the cauldron of golf.
After all, this playing-on-the-world-stage thing is woven into her family’s competitive DNA. Her father Petr (1998 Australian Open champion in tennis), mother Regina (pro tennis and 1988 Olympics), brother Sebastian (fourth round of the 2020 French Open in tennis) and recently top-ranked sister Nelly (reigning gold medalist in Olympic golf), can all cite success at the highest level. Jessica also represented Team USA last summer in the Games in Tokyo, finishing T15 and shooting a final-round best 64, which was tied by Kelly Tan of Malaysia.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” Jessica said of her family. “A lot of what I have achieved in life has been because of them. They make me believe in myself when I don’t.”
Jessica Korda returned in 2010 to the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship – known as the Espirito Santo Trophy around the globe – in her success-laden final year of amateur golf. In Argentina, she and teammates Danielle Kang and Cydney Clanton won the silver medal for the U.S. and Korda finished T4 in the individual standings. That year she also won the South Atlantic title, was the runner-up in the U.S. Women’s Amateur to her good friend Kang, played on the winning U.S. Curtis Cup team as well as American championship squads for Copa de las Americas.
And before she qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt at age 17 in December of 2010, Korda made the cut at the 2008 (T19 at age 15) and 2009 U.S. Women’s Opens (T26), with fourth-round 69s in both championships.
The first of her six LPGA Tour victories came, fittingly, at the 2012 Australian Women’s Open at age 20.
Now 28 and in her second decade with the LGPA, Jessica Korda is a mature and grounded player.
“It’s crazy to think how long she has been on tour,” said Nelly, who is five years younger than her sister. “I would say she’s getting closer to the veteran side because of her experience. She is a good face for the LPGA Tour especially when they bring in new, fresh aspects. She’s seen a lot. She’s been through a lot.”
The elder Korda – who got married in Jupiter, Florida, in December, around a group of family and LPGA/PGA Tour friends – gladly accepts the experienced label.
“I wouldn’t say that my role changed,” she said. “I’ve been out here long enough to get settled into the role. We all have a role out here. I’ve settled into a role, and I’ve accomplished a lot of what I wanted to, which is awesome. We were talking about it earlier, but as a 14- or 15-year-old looking at where I am, I would be happy with that. The goal was to come out on the LPGA tour and win tournaments and to be relevant. That’s the whole thing, right?”
“… Stability means you should retire. You are always trying to push yourself. You are disappointed with bad rounds and that’s good and you’re always nervous on the first tee. It means you care. As long as I feel that, I am still going to play.” –Jessica Korda
The latest of her six LPGA victories came in January of 2021 at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions when she shot the fifth 60 in LPGA history in the third round. And recently – following a 3-over 75 in chilly and blustery conditions at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rico that some players likened to the Open Championship in the UK – Korda could not have been more generous with her time even within earshot of dozens of young autograph seekers. Even after a triple bogey on a back nine par-4.
“In a sense, I don’t freak out as much as I did,” Jessica said. “I know I work hard, and I’ve grown into myself, which took a long time because I had no experience professionally as I was kind of kicked out onto the tour and not playing great and having injuries and struggling through and certain surgeries … that and all the stuff that I’ve had to overcome. I think I’m more settled now.”
Part of that “settling” is based on overcoming a wrist injury in 2017 (which caused her to miss the Solheim Cup) as well as a major jaw surgery to alleviate debilitating headaches. She was still in a phase of her recovery when she won the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand and subsequently was selected by her peers for the Heather Farr Perseverance Award.
The recognition is welcomed but Korda maintains a “what’s next” attitude.
“I never feel like I’m on stable ground,” she said, laughing. “I don’t have a stable paycheck. You are always grinding. You are always trying to get better. Stability means you should retire. You are always trying to push yourself. You are disappointed with bad rounds and that’s good and you’re always nervous on the first tee. It means you care. As long as I feel that, I am still going to play.”
Korda, who finished T20 in Boca Raton, travels with her 4-year-old Goldendoodle, Charlie, and that provides creature comfort bonuses. Unfortunately, she had to withdraw from the Drive On Championship in Fort Myers with a sprained rib with intercostal muscle strain. She had never planned to go to Asia in February so she has six weeks off to rest before heading to California where the LPGA Tour picks back up its domestic swing.
— Jessica Korda (@Thejessicakorda) February 20, 2019
“Traveling with my dog has been great,” she said. “He doesn’t care what I shoot. He is always there, and he is always happy to see me. Obviously, I’m super bummed if I don’t play well, but at the same time I know the season is long and I have time in front of me. I can just get snuggles from the dude. We’ve traveled for four years now. He’s a veteran.”
Spoken just like one.
© 2022 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?