Nelly Korda has her eye on the No. 1 world ranking, and a win at Royal Adelaide this week would go along way toward achieving that.
Right now, she’s No. 3, and the defending champion in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open which starts on Thursday.
The brilliant South Koreans, Jin Young Ko and Sung Hyun Park, remain ahead of her on the rankings, but it may well be just a matter of time for the 21-year-old American, whose win at The Grange last year was her first on the LPGA Tour.
Just don’t expect her to fuss about it, even if only 14 women have ever held the mantle since the official rankings started in 2006. The said today she didn’t even know how the rankings – which roll over a two-year period — were calculated. But she admits it’s a goal
“I mean, I think as a professional golfer, I think every golfer has that in the back of their head,” she said.
Life has changed a bit for the Floridean since she won here last year, reprising the scissor-kick that her father Petr had done when he won the tennis Open title in Australia in 1998, and her elder sister Jessica when she won the Women’s Australian Open golf title in 2012. The photos went around the world, and she loved it.
“I did get told that holding the trophy, my jump was the best, so I was really happy about that one,” said Korda. “Save the best for last.”
A year on she’s a different player, namely in experience, and she’s won twice more, in France and Taiwan. “I think just more experience under the gun, I think that’s what kind of makes you a better player, putting you through those positions where you have to control your heart rate. You’re never going to master it, you’re never going to master golf, but just trying to learn from each experience definitely helps.”
Her face is everywhere in Adelaide this week, on the billboards and all the advertising. She’s the highest-ranked player in the field; a legitimate superstar of the sport.
“I’m definitely seeing my face a lot this week,” she said. “It’s even on the floors of the hotel. I was like, ‘do not step on this, okay’? But yeah, it’s cool. I mean, you kind of just try to soak it all up and it’s definitely special seeing your face everywhere.”
As for this week, she has a new set of irons, having found that her increased strength gathered in the off-season had thrown out her yardages. There’s some tweaking been done in that area. Her first look at Royal Adelaide drew her approval.
“I played it early in the morning yesterday where there was no wind and I’ve just played it this afternoon, I just got off the golf course and it’s a completely different golf course when the wind picks up out here. I mean, the holes play so long when they’re into the wind and it’s going to be definitely about controlling the flight on the ball this week if the wind does get up.”