Nelly Korda is back, pain-free and raring to go at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after a month-plus away from competitive golf to deal with an ailing back.
Korda, the current World No. 2 who is searching for her second major title this week, last played at the Cognizant Founders Cup in mid-May and missed the cut. She pulled out of her next scheduled start, citing back pain.
Speaking Tuesday at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., Korda was asked if there was any lingering pain and said she was “all good.” Later, she was asked a follow-up question about the thick rough posing a problem for her back.
“I honestly wouldn’t be playing if I wasn’t 100 percent,” Korda said.
Korda hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since successfully defending her Pelican Women’s Championship title in November. Before the Founders Cup, Korda started the season 7-for-7 in made cuts with six top-six finishes.
The 24-year-old, whose sister Jessica Korda also plays on tour and whose brother Sebastian Korda is No. 32 in the ATP rankings, is no stranger to the physical and mental toll of athletics.
“I’ve played this sport since I started walking, so I’ve dealt with injuries,” Nelly Korda said. “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 [Rafael] Nadal, who battled with so many injuries throughout his entire career. It’s something you constantly learn from.”
And Korda’s back pain likely does not compare to what she endured in 2022. In March of that year she announced she had a blood clot in her arm and would miss time. She eventually returned at the U.S. Women’s Open the following June.
“I feel like every single time I’ve kind of taken a break, it’s been for something else,” Korda said Tuesday. “Last year was the blood clot at the beginning of the year, and this time it was just my lower back that I just wanted to make sure it didn’t turn into something worse.
“But yeah, it’s sometimes nice to reset after playing. … 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.”
Korda later added that the time away has left her “a little bit more hungry.”
Her only major title to date came at the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, when she shot a second-round 63 at Atlanta Athletic Club before outlasting Lizette Salas. Korda will play her first two rounds at Baltusrol with Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Lydia Ko of New Zealand — a threesome of the top three players in the Rolex Rankings.