NAPLES, Fla. — What’s been a strange year for everyone because of the coronavirus pandemic got stranger for Nelly Korda a couple of months ago.
The 22-year-old cracked her back during the KPMG Women’s LPGA Championship in October, and it went into spasm. Korda made sure she took off enough time to be completely healed, then returned for the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston, missing the cut with a pair of 73s.
“It was more of like my feel wasn’t really there,” she said. “At the end of the day, no one really pays attention I think to like, ‘Oh, she was injured.’ They pay attention to the score.
“For me to step back and say, OK, my team knows I was rusty and I didn’t play well. It’s OK. You’re going to have bad tournaments. Just focus on the upcoming one and do as well as you can.”
Korda has done just that during the CME Group Tour Championship so far. After playing her first 11 holes Thursday at 2 over, she has played the last 25 holes in 7 under to vault up the leaderboard and into contention.
Korda got an assist from her dad, former tennis star Petr Korda.
“It was really nice to roll in some putts,” she said. “I wasn’t putting too well (Thursday), but my dad — behind the fence — saw me putt on the putting green after my round and helped me out a little bit.
“So that really helped today.”
Korda hasn’t had any hiccups with her back so far.
“My caddie was funny,” she said. “I would hit like – I would go after a shot like in the rough and my caddie was like, ‘Are you OK?’ Yeah, I’m fine.”
Korda’s play at Tiburón isn’t a surprise. She’s been in the top 10 in each of her three appearances in Naples.
Still, she was able to put together a 5-under 31 on the back nine, starting out in chilly temperatures.
“It was a little nippy,” Korda said. “Not going to lie, I didn’t feel my fingers on the range. I stayed aggressive, hit some really close shots, and capitalized on them.”
Korda’s happy that temperatures will warm up into the upper 70s and near 80 over the weekend.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I’m a Florida girl. I do not like this. I like fall fashion, but I do not like playing golf in this kind of weather.”
Henderson rallies into top 20
Brooke Henderson continued her comeback from a triple-bogey on her second hole Thursday, shooting a 4-under 68 to tie for 16th. That included an eagle Friday on the par-5 17th.
“No. 17 was a really nice bonus,” Henderson said. “It was up and over a ridge, and it was a long one.”
Henderson, who is from Canada, said she just got into trouble after a bad tee shot on the triple-bogey.
“I felt like I battled back pretty well (Thursday), getting it back to 1 over,” Henderson said. “I was sort of happy at the end of the day, and happier now to get a solid round.”
Henderson, even before she bought a place in the area, always had the more-than-supportive Canadians in Southwest Florida come out. Like everywhere this year, the fans are missed, but Henderson and the Canadians had their own connection.
“There’s always tons of Canadians down here supporting me,” she said. “I definitely miss them this year, but hopefully next year things will get back to a little more normal.”
More than a tough start
Nanna Koerstz Madsen shot a 6-under 66 to move into second place Thursday, and said she had no expectations.
“I just want to go out and play and see if I can do good mentally,” Madsen said.
That didn’t happen at the start of Friday’s second round. Madsen bogeyed No. 2, double-bogeyed No. 3, quadruple-bogeyed No. 4, and bogeyed No. 5. She parred No. 6, and ended up playing the final 13 holes in 3 under.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/18/cme-group-tour-championship-nelly-korda/