With eight wins on the LPGA and three more on the Ladies European Tour, Nelly Korda knows a thing or two about celebrating wins. Then when her dear friend Megan Khang finally broke through and got her first win last week at the CPKC Women’s Open in her 191st career start, Korda thought a special celebration was in order.
Knowing she was sharing a house with Khang this week for the Portland Classic, Korda planned a surprise for her friend’s room to go along with a gift sent by Khang’s boyfriend.
“I came to this week a little late and I share a house with Nelly,” Khang explained, “and she showed me my room and completely surprised me. She had balloons made for my room and my boyfriend had sent flowers.
“I had no idea it would happen. I think I like to cry for the first time. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’ and it really hit home.
After enjoying a little party with her friend, however, it was back to business Thursday for Korda at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, as she finished the day with three straight birdies to move to 7 under, just two shots behind post-opening leader Perrine Delacour game round.
Thursday brought some rain, but that didn’t affect Korda, who had birdies on the day with just one bogey.
“I think the golf course in general is playing a little softer than it was last year. I just knew with the amount of rain we got during the day that I could just be a little bit more aggressive,” Korda said. “So it was possible to make sure I was flying to the right numbers and aiming for flags.
“I think (the rain is) good. It kind of boosts your confidence when you hit it well. Obviously it’s hard to play in the rain and there’s a lot more going on, like trying to stay dry, and it’s a little bit more hectic, but overall it didn’t really get to us. It stayed consistent all day.”
Korda didn’t touch a club for several weeks this spring after lower back pain resulted in a forced layoff. When the 25-year-old returned to work, it was with a new swing instructor, Jason Baile, the director of instruction at Jupiter Hills Club i Florida. She has not won since her return, but she is playing well, with two top-11 finishes in recent majors, the Amundi Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s Open attesting.
“It’s been an interesting time since my injury. You know, coming back – I was playing really well before that and then when I came back it was very hard to get into the groove of things,” Korda said. “I came back to basically four majors in a row, so absolutely tough golf courses, firm golf courses where it’s kind of hard to get your confidence back.
“But one step at a time, I think. I am pushing in the right direction.”
With Solheim Cup just around the corner, Korda is busy fine-tuning her game, but her focus is solely on playing well in Portland.
This will be Korda’s third appearance at the biennial event against the Europeans and has a 5-2-1 record in his previous starts. But that is in the future.
“I’m just really focusing on this week and when I get to that week, I’m going to focus on that week,” she said. “I’m just trying to take it one round at a time, play some consistent golf and hopefully I can take that into Spain.”