Date: February 12, 2019
Author: John Huggan

HUGGAN: Nelly living up to Korda name

It’s hard to imagine a more high-achieving sporting family than the Kordas, a fact that is even more true when a member of the five-strong clan is competing in Australia. Father and tennis star Petr famously won the men’s singles at the 1998 Australian Open. Elder daughter Jessica lifted the title at the 2012 Australian Women’s Open at Royal Melbourne. And son Sebastian, emulating his father, winning the Boys’ singles championship at the 2018 Australian Open.

Which leaves Mum, Regina – good enough on the tennis court to represent her native Czech Republic in singles at the 1988 Olympics – and, more immediately, younger daughter Nelly, one of the favourites to win the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open here at The Grange this week. The 20-year old, a winner on the LPGA Tour as recently as last October at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship, is one of the most exciting and talented young players in the ladies’ game.

“I have yet to figure out how to play in Australia, to be honest,” she says with a smile. “Last year, I think I was in every bunker. The courses are a bit different out here. So I'm going to take some time this week to prepare.”

Which only underlines how the baby of the Korda family still has much to learn about life on tour. Speaking to the assembled press just before getting her first look at the front-nine on the West course where Jin Young Ko claimed first-place last year, Nelly was quick to identify “greater consistency” as her primary goal over the weeks and months to come.

“I’ve always had trouble doing that in the middle part of the year when the tournaments are coming thick and fast,” she says.” It’s easy to get a bit fatigued. So my Dad and I have been looking at my scheduling for the coming months. I’m not going to play any more than four in-a-row this year. That’s my maximum. Asia is especially tough for me. I find it tough to stay strong mentally after three weeks of that sort of schedule. It’s tough to feel 100 percent when you are tired and that can lead to more injuries. I can tell when I’m tired though. My shots tend to start going all over.

“Playing too much is as much a mental thing as it is physical though. Take this week. I’m flying to Thailand on Sunday night. Then one week later I’ll be doing the same thing to Singapore. Both are long flights and both are overnight. So it is easy to get tired. I get Monday to recover. Then I play Tuesday. Then there is a pro-am on Wednesday. Then I’m into the tournament, And so it goes on.”

Still, that inexperience hasn’t been affecting Korda too badly or too often over the past 12 months. Last year the world number-16 missed only four cuts in 22 starts, picked up over $1m in prize-money, achieved that maiden victory and established herself as a strong contender for the U.S. Solheim Cup side that will defend the trophy against the Europeans at Gleneagles in Scotland this September. Making the team would, however, make Nelly only the second Korda to appear in the biennial contest. Sister Jessica was part of the first American side to lose on home soil in 2013 and qualified again in 2017, before injury forced her to withdraw.

“It would be really cool to represent my country,” says Nelly. 

Like we said, quite the family.