Korda ready to defend title at Women’s PGA Championship

BETHESDA, MD (AP) — Just a year ago, Nelly Korda won the Women’s PGA Championship, earning her first major and reaching No. 1 in the world.

“It feels like forever before, honestly,” she said.

A lot has happened – both good and bad – to Korda since then. She also won an Olympic gold medal for the US last year, but this year she went through a four-month layoff due to health problems and recently returned. This week she defends her title in the women’s PGA at Congressional Country Club – looking ready to contest after nearly winning Michigan last week.

“I gave myself a chance last week,” she said. “If you had told me that while I lay in the ER, I certainly would have been much happier with it.”

Korda’s season was interrupted when she felt a swelling in her left arm – a blood clot in the subclavian vein. She missed her first major of the year in the California desert and had surgery in April.

It is unusual for him to take so long, but since his return he has been in good form. She finished eighth at the US Women’s Open, then lost in the playoffs at the LPGA Meijer Classic last weekend.

“That was the longest time I think I’ve ever gone without hitting a golf ball,” Korda said. “It’s been a full throttle since I started hitting, and I’ve been practicing a lot. I haven’t taken more than two or three days off since then. I’m competitive here I’m happy playing golf.”

Korda says it’s important to stay positive after her health issues.

“I think the more you enjoy it, the better you play, the less you stick, the less things go wrong, I guess, in a sense,” she said. “Ever since I got back, I’ve made sure I’ve had a good attitude and enjoyed every second of it, and I think it’s contributed to my good game.”

This week’s tournament, sponsored by KPMG, is doubling its purse size to $9 million, with the winner receiving $1.35 million. The 6,894-yard, par-72 congressional course could be softened for the first round. On Wednesday, the area received some thunderstorms, with more rain likely throughout the night.

“I think KPMG and the PGA have done a phenomenal job of getting us on these amazing golf courses and really raising the bar for women’s golf,” said Brooke Henderson. “So grateful for that. I’ve said it a bunch, but I’m so excited to be playing here on this amazing golf course.”

Weather permitting, Korda is scheduled to begin Thursday morning with Henderson and Inby Park. That group has jointly won the event five times. Park won three straight titles from 2013–15, before Henderson ended that streak with his victory in 2016.

Korda is second in the tournament after Jin Young Ko of South Korea. Australia’s Minji Lee is third, having won the most recent Major at the US Women’s Open.

Jennifer Kupcho, who won the major Chevron championship, also won last week in Michigan.

“It’s definitely good confidence,” Kupcho said. “I think it’s really important to hit the ball so well last week. Especially coming into a prime.”

Korda has reason to feel confident, too. She was part of a three-way tie that forced a playoff in Michigan. She appears healthy enough to be congressional — and mentally prepared — after last year’s win in the women’s PGA.

“I don’t think I’ve changed a bunch in the past year. In a sense I think I’ve become a little more consistent and confident that I can win a big championship,” Korda said. That I’ve learned my way around major championship week and not to put too much pressure on myself and enjoy every moment because a lot of people put so much emphasis on major championship week. Maybe when at the end of the day you’re playing with the same girls in the same week, they can put a little too much pressure on themselves. ,

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Follow Noah Traister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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