Nelly Korda is back from injury. Here’s why she feels the time off was an advantage
In your opinion, who do you think is the best player in the women’s game right now?
“I don’t know,” she said with a smirk.
Korda is competing this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA, the second major on the LPGA’s calendar. It’s her first tournament back from injury, and her first since losing the top spot in the Rolex Rankings.
At the Chevron Championship, the first major of the year, Korda finished third, just one stroke out of the playoff eventually won by Lilia Vu. It wasn’t the result she had hoped for, but it was good enough for her to reclaim the top spot in the Rolex Ranking. Now, she’s fallen back to No. 2.
Since the end of 2022, World No. 1 has been a bit of a revolving door, with Lydia Ko taking over not long after her win at the CME Group Tour Championship and Jin Young Ko, with two wins in 2023, holding it currently. Korda has reclaimed No. 1 twice since her return from a scary blood clot in her arm forced her to miss four months last year, but she’s only won one time in that span.
Her health has been an issue once again this season. Just before the Mizuho Americas Open in late May, Korda announced she would be pulling out of the tournament to heal a back injury. During the time off, she lost the No. 1 spot to Jin Young Ko.
That injury doesn’t seem to be a problem four weeks later at Baltusrol. She said she is completely pain-free and wouldn’t even be giving it a go this week if she wasn’t “100 percent” healthy.
It’s not the first time she’s dealt with a lower back injury. She missed nine weeks in 2020 after lower back pain forced her to withdraw from this tournament.
But she’s not overly concerned with its recurrence, despite being just 24.
“There’s a lot of torque in the golf swing, so I fell like I’m not the only golfer that kind of struggles with the low back,” she said. “I’ve played this sport since I started walking, so I’ve dealt with injuries. I think coming from a family that has played sports throughout their entire life, it just comes with it. You look at so many athletes, they all go through something. I can only speak on let’s say tennis where you see Nadal, who battled with so many injuries throughout his entire career.”
The issue then becomes picking up where she left off prior to the injuries. While Korda hasn’t won since last November, she has finished in the top 10 in seven of her nine starts since. But despite the high finishes, she’s struggled to continue the momentum from week to week.
“I think it’s like starting anew. I think all the momentum that you had kind of goes away because I didn’t touch a golf club for two weeks,” Korda said. “It’s like going to the gym after a really long time. The first week is kind of tough, but then once you get into the groove of things, you kind of get it back.”
But there are good parts about her leave — part of which might even be advantageous. Korda said the added perspective from each of her breaks has helped her rediscover her love for the game.
“It’s sometimes nice to reset after playing,” she said. “I played eight events. I think I just skipped two throughout the beginning of the year. So it’s nice to take a step back, get a break in a sense. I think it also makes you appreciate playing out here, traveling and getting to do what you love when it’s kind of taken away from you and you have to take a forced break.
“I feel like I love the game of golf. I love competing. I have so much fun doing this and traveling. It just makes me appreciate it more.”