Nelly Korda comes to Annika Sorenstam’s namesake event on the LPGA hoping to do something the LPGA legend accomplished twice in her career: win an event three years in a row.
Korda’s last victory on the LPGA came last year at Pelican Golf Club, where she beat fellow Floridian Lexi Thompson by a stroke. Two years ago, Korda triumphed in a sudden-death playoff over Lydia Ko, 2020 champion Sei Young Kim and Thompson. Korda was not in the field in 2020 due to a back injury sustained at the KPMG Women’s PGA.
The penultimate event on the LPGA calendar was renamed The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican for 2023 and features a purse of $3,250,000. Sorenstam won the McDonald’s LPGA Championship from 2003 to 2005 and the Mizuno Classic from 2001 to 2005. Inbee Park was the last player to win three consecutive events at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship from 2013-15.
“To three-peat, obviously there is pressure that I want to perform,” said Korda, “but I try not to think about it.”
Korda was grinding on the practice green Tuesday with putting instructor Eric Dietrich. The pair first began working together around the Solheim Cup, and she has since switched her grip and her putter. Korda said she feels more organized after making the move to Dietrich.
“Felt like I just have a plan now, or I have tendencies that I know about that I can always go into a drill and kind of work on those tendencies,” said Korda.
“Where before I was kind of blind going to a putting green. I did it myself.”
Korda has switched from a left-hand low grip back to a conventional grip. She also began using a mallet putter for the first time in her career at the LPGA stop in South Korea last month.
“Honestly, I haven’t been putting bad,” she said. “I’ve been in contention a bunch this year. It’s just I want to improve. I want to improve in every part of my game, and I just thought this was a necessary change to that.”
Photos: Nelly Korda through the years
Korda has a 65.571 scoring average at Pelican through seven rounds. The grass, the weather, the fact that her family can drive to watch her compete all factor into her success here. The eight-time LPGA winner has eight top-10 finishes this season. She took a month off midseason to nurse a lower back injury.
“I talked about it a couple times like where the beginning of the year golf felt in a sense like I don’t want to take it for granted,” she said, “but it felt easy, top 10-ing, playing well, and being in contention.
“Then I got injured and just felt hard to get back into that flow. I somehow like had a hard time finding it, so that’s kind of why I brought Eric in. And with Jamie (Mulligan), we’re all working really hard on my entire game. Hopefully, we can continue improving, but it’s more about the consistency.”