BELLEAIR, Florida | It’s not exactly home. The Kordas grew up in Bradenton, Florida, the city that means Sarasota like a word, Sarasota-Bradenton, about an hour from Belleair, depending on traffic in Tampa. Still, the Pelican Women’s Championship, presented by Konica Minolta and Raymond James, is as close to a home game as the sisters on the LPGA Tour, an hour closer than Orlando and Naples. Granted, Jessica has lived in Jupiter, on the other side of the state, for years. But it’s still nice to be close to the family.
“I went to my parents’ house on Sunday and had some time with them and had dinner and then casually went upstairs on Monday,” said Jess. “So, yes, it’s super nice to be so close. It’s nice to be able to drive to an event, just pack it in the car and drive off and not have to think about flights and all the extras that go with it. “
At that point Nelly interrupted. “And stop at home on Sunday and do your laundry,” she said.
Jess giggled and said, “Yeah.” But there’s a fair bit of truth in the joke. Her mother, Regina, cooked for them for a week so they could bring food that could be warmed up in the room.
“It’s great to have friends and family around so they can come down and watch,” said Nelly.
What these friends and family will see is a player who just climbed back to # 1 on the Rolex leaderboard and who is embroiled in one of the best season bouts the game has seen in a while.
Nelly has returned to # 1, even though neither she nor Jin Young Ko played last week. The leaderboard is a moving average and the weeks that have passed has shaken the numbers in Nelly’s favor. Ko leads the battle for Player of the Year with 15 points. But Nelly could overtake her with a win and another top 10 this week or next, depending on how Ko plays.
Even so, Nelly insists she doesn’t think about what’s at stake. “I was super shocked,” she said when she learned she was back to the No. 1 spot, a place she took for the first time after winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Atlanta. “When I finished my training lap yesterday at the age of 18, someone came up to me and told me that I was number one in the world again. I thought, ‘No, you’re kidding. How is that possible?’ So it was a bit of a shock for me.
“But I honestly don’t think about it because I haven’t played in three weeks. I’ve had a strange schedule over the past two months where I haven’t played a lot. So just try to get back into competitive golf and take it one shot at a time, because I can definitely say that I haven’t played a lot of competitive golf. “
With the majors, the Solheim Cup and the Olympics in a busy summer, both Kordas took a break after circling the globe more than John Glenn.
“My schedule was crazy enough,” said Nelly. “I had to leave Portland at the last minute because I was just not doing well. And the same at Walmart. I don’t think I could have played more events because my body was just so tired. I usually play all the events at the beginning of the year and when I play well I take some time off because traveling in the summer was just so crazy. “
There is also a longer term goal than just this year’s awards and recognition that comes from number 1. This is where it comes in handy to have Jess around. The older Korda advises her sister that professional golf is a marathon. To finish the race you have to stay healthy, which Jessica hasn’t always managed. “I’ve played many weeks that I shouldn’t,” Jess said, referring to her struggles with wrist injuries. “I’m so stubborn.”
Nelly seems to heed her family’s advice. “Honestly, I think I’ve always said that in some ways good golf solves everything,” she said. “I won’t worry about anything, no trophies, nothing until I hit the first shot and hopefully pocket the last putt on the 72nd hole.”