DEREK LAWRENSON: X-factor of the Korda sisters is selling women’s game after they won first two LPGA Tour titles of 2021… with their parents former tennis stars, they are arguably the world’s most athletic family.
What an exciting, momentum-building year this promises to be for women’s golf.
Bolstered by resources from the LPGA Tour in America, the European circuit this season will go from being threadbare and looking ready to fold a couple of years ago to offering no fewer than nine new events, making 27 in all.
On television, Sky Sports are delivering a regular diet of tournament play from the other side of the Atlantic, bringing the game invaluable exposure.
Then there are the two sisters with the X factor who are beginning to realise all their awesome potential. What a shot in the arm for the women’s game to emerge from the worst of the pandemic with the photogenic Nelly and Jess Korda as their poster offering for attracting a new audience.
Jess, 28, won the Tournament of Champions and was followed into the winner’s circle by 22-year-old Nelly in Orlando on Sunday.
No wonder Swedish legend Annika Sorenstam, making a one-off appearance owing to the event being staged on her home course at Lake Nona, was effusive in her praise. ‘I have so much respect for them,’ she said.
They’ve certainly made their father Petr change his tune. The 1998 Australian Open tennis champion, who played under the Czech flag before moving his family to Florida in 2008, scoffed when his girls told him they were more interested in golf. ‘That’s a retirement sport,’ he huffed.
Watching proudly from behind the ropes on Sunday alongside wife Regina, another former tennis star, it’s safe to assume Petr has revised his opinion.
Not that tennis has been completely lost from the gene pool. Almost unbelievably, younger sibling Sebastian is a promising player on the men’s circuit, reaching the fourth round of the French Open last year, where he lost — and who doesn’t? — to Rafa Nadal.
As for the two girls, fancy being 17th in the world (Jess) and still not the best player in your own family? With her victory on Sunday, Nelly is now up to fourth.
Asked by Golf Digest for a recent front-cover story about what the best piece of advice given by their parents was, the girls were in agreement. ‘Our dad said to make sure we enjoy every moment and he’s right,’ they chorused. ‘It’s easy to forget when you’re playing every week. He stressed to really take time to appreciate the highs.’
Not only in the Korda household, there’s plenty here for the women’s game in general to enjoy.