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As Nelly Korda looks to make history, she's living by her mantra: 'When the time is right'

April 16, 2024
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Nelly Korda waits to putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the 2023 Chevron Championship.

Stacy Revere

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Nelly Korda was practicing on the green at The Concession Golf Club just over five years ago when World Golf Hall of Famer Hollis Stacy walked up to her. Korda shared her frustration that she hadn't won yet on the LPGA, and Stacy responded with, “When the time is right.” Korda wrote that phrase in her yardage book and won the following week at the 2018 Swinging Skirts.

That conversation has helped ground Korda in the present moment ever since. The 12-time winner now finds herself having won four in a row on the LPGA, facing the historic possibility of joining Nancy Lopez in 1978 and Annika Sorenstam in 2004-05 as the only players to win five consecutive tournaments on the LPGA. She can pull that off in this week’s Chevron Championship, with Korda entering the tour's first major of the season as a heavy favorite, coming off a third-place finish here at Carlton Woods last year.

"That [conversation] made me very present, and that made me think more of golf is a shot at a time, not to get too ahead of myself, and when the time is right, it'll happen because I put in the work," Korda said on Tuesday.

Korda wrote down four phrases that her coach Jamie Mulligan shared with the 25-year-old in her new yardage book for this year ahead of her victory at the Drive On in January. She says she looks at them between every shot. That ritual continued after her return following seven weeks off as she swept the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship and the Ford Championship in March and the T-Mobile Match Play two weeks ago.

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Nelly Korda plays a shot from a bunker on the 18th hole during the third round of the Ford Championship.

Christian Petersen

Korda's historic run has put the rest of the LPGA on notice. Lydia Ko, a 20-time winner who can reach the LPGA Hall of Fame with one more victory, has had an front-row seat to Korda's dominance. She lost to Korda in a playoff at the Drive On, then played with her during the opening rounds at the Ford. It's been a common occurrence over recent years, with the two joking that Korda is often in a "Ko-Orda" pairing, playing with either 15-time winner Jin Young Ko or Lydia.

The Kiwi views Korda's run as one of the best she has seen in her 11 years out on the LPGA, with the Bradenton, Fla., native's combination of accuracy, distance off the tee, and short game keeping Korda consistently in contention.

"The max I've done is two [wins in a row], and I was, like, this is pretty cool to be able to win back-to-back weeks," Ko said. “For her to win the second event of the year, have [seven] weeks off, and win the next three, I was, like, man, I shouldn't have played, all playing for second place."

Korda is the first player since Lorena Ochoa in 2008 to win four consecutive events. Angela Stanford, a 24-year LPGA veteran, views Ochoa as the best ever. The Mexican reigned over the tour from 2004 to 2009, putting together an impressive 27 victories, including two major titles before retiring after a shortened 2010 campaign. Stanford, having witnessed Korda's run as a fellow tour member, Golf Channel and Solheim assistant captain, sees Korda nearing Ochoa's territory.

"Lorena had something that nobody did," Stanford said. "I think Nelly is as close to Lorena right now as anybody. She just kind of has this … doesn't matter what comes at her. The final rounds [this season] have been weather issues … and it doesn't seem it faze her. So I think she's the closest thing to Lorena speaking of those streaks."

Stacy Lewis, a 12-time LPGA winner and past Solheim Cup captain, is not surprised by Korda's dominance. What impressed the former World No. 1 the most about Korda was her ability to maintain her energy to deliver a victory for the third straight week.

"I knew it was just going to be a matter of time," Lewis said.

Korda spent little time last week pondering what a fifth consecutive victory could mean. She said she was exhausted to the point of struggling to sleep after her gauntlet of victories and relaxed with her family to recharge her batteries. Korda hung out at the beach with her best friend and spent time with her sister Jessica and her infant son Grayson. Her dad reminded her to enjoy the moment, while both parents ensured she didn't overextend herself.

"Tried to live the Florida life for a few days: Beach and chillin'," Korda said.

Korda returned from the serenity of time at home to the tour with constant reminders of the gravity of what the moment could mean. She went on SportsCenter shortly before her press conference Tuesday to discuss what a fifth victory could do for her and the LPGA in a moment when women's sports are on the rise.

Korda pointed to staying in her little bubble around her team as crucial to her success. She pointed to the fact that even after her four-win 2021 campaign, including the KPMG Women's PGA and the Olympic Gold medal, she only won once on the LPGA in 2023-23, including dealing with a blood-clot health scare that took her away from the tour for six months. Those fleeting moments of pondering the future bring Korda back to Hollis' advice.

When the time is right, it'll happen.

"You never take these weeks for granted," Korda said. "You always try to appreciate and become very grateful for them. It makes just all the hard work so worth it."