The former World No. 1 tells NCG about her love of team golf, regaining the Solheim Cup, and how the women’s game is growing
Nelly Korda could be peaking at just the right time – and Europe could end up bearing the brunt. The American spent a chunk of this season out with a back injury, but showed she was getting back to her best when dominating the Aramco Team Series tournament in London.
The 25-year-old is one of the shining lights of the LPGA Tour, which is pushing every day for more prominence, more column inches, and better TV coverage.
Sitting down with NCG, we asked the World No. 3 about the growth in women’s golf, why playing classic championship courses is fuelling interest, and we look ahead to a pivotal Solheim Cup match with Europe in Spain next month…
You’ve talked about the progression you’ve seen over the last few years in the development of the LPGA Tour. Where you’re playing the big championships feels a big part of that. You’ve been to Pebble Beach, Baltusrol, Carnoustie and Murfield in recent years…
Nelly Korda: When we do play all these historic golf courses, that’s going to bring more attention. You’ve had so many people get to play Pebble Beach so they’re going to want to see what the women play out there and follow along.
It helps when we do get to play these amazing historic golf courses. Growing the next generations is what’s important. You see so many young kids – girls and boys – come out and I think the LPGA girls do a really good job of engaging with them.
After their day, they’re excited and look forward to coming back or maybe picking up a club. That’s why we’re out there. We’re out there because we love golf too, but we also enjoy the other side of growing the game.
In the UK there has been an explosion in the growth of women’s sports. Do you think golf is capitalising on that momentum – in terms of more coverage, more publicity and more TV time?
For sure. As I said, even just playing the historic golf courses – and we get to play on prime-time TV as well – more people will tune in and more people will be interested.
As bad as it was during Covid, I think that also made people really interested in golf. That’s where we saw the biggest boom – where people could be outside, active, with friends and go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and be competitive as well. A lot of business deals do get done on the golf course as well.
I think golf plays an important role in many things in life. For kids, you learn a lot of life skills playing golf. It’s a fun game to play.
There’s been a lot of talk about team events and mixed events. Do you like that idea and could you eventually see a joint tour?
That I don’t know. I think it would be cool but I don’t think about that too much. All I think about is what’s realistic and what’s in front of me. We are playing a really cool event – the Grant Thornton Invitational – and I’m teaming up with Tony Finau.
It’s 16 teams, a boys and girls mixed event, and equal prize money in December in Florida. That will be a great opportunity to grow the game as well.
Let’s turn to the Solheim Cup, what excites you most about this year’s event?
Representing my country. It’s so much fun. I’ve been lucky enough to play in two of them already. Obviously, I’ve been on the losing team twice so to bring it back to the US would be nice.
But it’s really fun, not just playing for yourself but for your team and your country. There is nothing like it. The crowds are chanting. It’s a completely chaotic, crazy, fun, energy.
There are the emotions when you get on the first tee – do you love all of that?
I’m pretty level out there. I don’t really show too much emotion. Growing up in a tennis family, I love the demeanour of Roger [Federer] but I love the grit and fight of Nadal.
In golf, I feel you really have to control your emotions because it’s not like you’re running around out there. You have to control your heart rate and make sure you’re 100 per cent to your next shot.
I’m very tame. If you see me throwing out a fist pump, it’s usually that I’m in contention on the back nine on Sunday.
I really do like it. Maybe during Solheim, I do have a little bit more energy because it’s just fun. It’s different.
What are your most memorable moments?
Playing with my sister in alternate shot. That’s where I’ve had the most fun.
Your individual record in Solheim is pretty good but the US have lost both times. Does that ramp up the aggression this year? Do you go into it as a must win?
I don’t think there’s ever a must. There’s a want – where you are going to come in and bring in 100% of yourself. All of us do that every single year. if that’s not enough then it, unfortunately, sucks. But all of us give 110% and that’s what I do in every event I play.
There are going to be a lot of rookies…
Every year it’s been a very different team. It’s been a little inconsistent. You have your core four or five on the US team. But you have Allisen Corpuz, who’s just won at Pebble (US Women’s Open). You have Lilia Vu, who’s just won the Chevron. It’s going to be different. But it’ll also be fun.
Do you see yourself as a team leader with a responsibility to nurture the rookies?
Oh, thank God we have a captain. No, we’ll be listening to the captain.
What have you learned from your previous experiences of Solheim – is there anything you’d do differently?
I would say getting someone you get along with is really important. I played with my sister at alternate shot – I get along with her great – and then I played with Ally Ewing and one year I played with Brittany Altomare and I get along with all those girls really well.
The captain does a good job of mixing and matching and that’s really important – having someone you can lean on out there.
Do you have your eyes on a specific partner this year for alternate shot or fourball?
One of my really good friends is Megan Khang. I played best-ball with Lilia Vu in San Francisco for International Crown and I really liked her as well. But, honestly, we’re in good hands and I am easy. I get along with anyone.
Do you have a preference in the order? Would you rather go out first and get red on the board early?
I like to be first to middle but it’s not my call. I can tell the captain my preference. Even if they asked me to go out last, I wouldn’t say no. It’s not just about you. It’s about the team.
What do you think? Is Nelly Korda going to star at the Solheim Cup? Let us know with a tweet.
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