With eight wins on the LPGA and three more on the Ladies European Tour, Nelly Korda knows a thing or two about celebrating victories. So when her dear friend Megan Khang finally broke through and earned her first victory 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’m sharing the house with Nelly,” Khang explained, “and she was showing me my room and totally caught me off guard. She had balloons done for my room and my boyfriend had sent flowers.
“I had no idea that was going to happen. I think I like cried for the first time. I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy,’ and it really hit.”
After enjoying a little celebration with her friend, however, it was back to business on Thursday for Korda at Columbia Edgewater Country Club as she finished the day with three straight birdies to get to 7 under, just two shots behind leader Perrine Delacour after the opening round of play.
Thursday brought a little rain, but that didn’t impact Korda, who had birdies on the day to go with just one bogey.
— LPGA (@LPGA) August 31, 2023
“I think the golf course is just in general playing a little softer than it was last year. I just knew with the amount of rain we were getting throughout the day that I could just be a little bit more aggressive,” Korda said. “So making sure that I was flying to the right numbers and taking dead aim at flags was possible.
“I think (the rain is) good. It boosts your confidence in a sense when you’re hitting it good. Obviously, it’s tough to play in the rain and there is a lot more going on, as in trying to stay dry and it’s a little bit more hectic, but overall it didn’t really dump on us. It stayed consistent throughout the day.”
Korda didn’t touch a club for several weeks this spring after lower back pain resulted in a forced break. 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 in Florida. She hasn’t won since returning, but she’s playing well with two top-11 finishes in the most recent majors, the Amundi Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s Open can attest.
“It’s been an interesting time since my injury. You know, I came back — I played really well before it, and then when I came back it was very hard to get into the groove of things,” Korda said. “I came back to pretty much four majors in a row, so definitely 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’m pushing in the right direction.”
With the Solheim Cup right around the corner, Korda is concerned with 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 her previous starts. But that’s in the future.
“I’m just really focusing on this week, and once I get to that week I’ll focus on that week,” she said. “I’m just trying to take it one round at time, play some consistent golf, and hopefully I can take that into Spain.”