‘Grateful that I’m out here’: Nelly Korda returns to U.S. Women’s Open after months away

Nelly Korda is back at the U.S. Women's Open after taking several months off due to a blood clot that kept her out of competition.

USGA

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — For the first time in 125 days, Nelly Korda stood in front of the media.

The No. 2-ranked player in the world is the face of women’s golf in the U.S., and her pressers are always a hot ticket. The stature of the U.S. Women’s Open — and the hordes of national media that have descended on the Carolina Sandhills as a result — only amplified the buzz.

For months, speculation brewed about her health, as a blood clot in her left arm required surgery and rehab.

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Korda strolled into the flash area behind the 18th green grandstand, agent in tow, just after 10:45 a.m. The 23-year-old has never been one to chum it up with the media, and she was equally guarded during this appearance.

“Super excited,” she said. “Feeling good. Yeah, everything is good.”

That cut-and-dry opening line set the tone for the remainder of Korda’s availability — specifically surrounding questions about the clot.

While Korda declined to reveal the cause of her blood clot, she did provide a timeline for the injury and treatment. According to Korda, she began feeling “funny” after a photoshoot in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and called her family doctor. Her physician recommended she go to the ER to get further testing.

“I listened to my body,” she said. “I went to the ER, got some ultrasounds, found out that I had a blood clot, went back home and saw a specialist.”

That specialist was Michael Leopore, a vascular specialist in the Sarasota, Fla., area.

“He was great,” she said. “Can’t think of a better doctor to do the procedure.”

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Korda underwent surgery in early April, and has “been good ever since.” She recuperated at home after surgery until she was healthy enough for travel, and then shipped off to California to rehab. While there, she worked with her coach — GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jamie Mulligan — and began working to get her game in shape for competition.

“I started obviously gradually really slow,” she said. “I probably went like 60 percent. I was hitting like my 8-iron 100 yards to see how it was feeling, and then once I got the clearance from my doctor, then I was good to go.”

Korda declined to comment on the cause of her blood clot, citing medical privacy. She did reveal that the doctors knew the cause of the clot, but she stopped short of offering the explanation to the public.

Perhaps the biggest question entering this week? We also do not know the state of Korda’s game. In her last appearance on the LPGA Tour four months ago, she finished T15. But, as every golfer knows, four months away from competition might as well be a lifetime.

“I’m not expecting too much,” she said. “I’m trying not to think about it too much, and I’m just more grateful that I’m out here.”

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.