Jessica Korda's Win Was Good Medicine For Her Teacher
*From the Feb. 3 edition of Golf World Monday:
When Jessica Korda and swing coach Grant Price reunited last week in Florida for their first lesson after the golfer's Jan. 26 victory in the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, they had to celebrate before moving on to swing mechanics. "There were a lot of hugs," Price said. "There weren't any tears, but there was a lot of emotion there."
Most of the emotion stemmed not only from Korda's second LPGA victory, but also from the physical condition of Price, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer last March and went through a 12-hour surgery, called a retroperitoneal lymph dissection, on Dec. 3.
Price was so beat up from the operation—and prior chemotherapy— that he and Korda did not get together until Dec. 28. Four weeks and one day later, Price watched the 20-year-old Korda win the LPGA season-opener with a final-hole birdie to beat Stacy Lewis.
"Anything that helps the soul," Price said. "That really helped."
Going back five years, it was Price who helped Korda's golf soul as she struggled through the pressure of a junior career. Their reunion was more technical than mental, as Korda complained of injuries and inconsistencies in her ball flight. But their conversations about the swing turned out to be therapeutic for Korda.
When I emailed her and asked about Price's biggest impact on her game, Korda responded, "Helping me become more positive and start believing in myself more," Korda said. "He brought back the fun into my game and the hunger to work harder."
Price watched the Pure Silk telecast from his home near the IMG Academy in Bradenton, where he is a senior instructor. He watched as Korda started reverting to her old swing under pressure, shanking a ball on the 13th hole of the third round.
They say the toughest shot in golf is the shot after a shank, but Price was pleased to see Korda re-set and execute what they had been working on to pick up a stroke on the next hole with a birdie. "She didn't think anything of it," Price said.
Price, 36, is the nephew of Nick Price. He has two children, Astrid, 6, and Lucas, 3, and wife, Eilidh (pronounced Alee). She "held the family up" while Price recovered, dropping the kids off at school and Grant for his chemotherapy.
His practice sessions with Korda were from the seat of a golf cart, and were limited in time. "I was lucky to go 45 minutes," he said. Most of their work was done remotely, either through emailing video of Korda's swings or through text messaging.
"It's tough getting help or giving help over a phone, but at the same time it forced me to feel my changes and forced me to express it back to him," Korda said. "Learning how to fix a mistake in the long run will be easier for me too."
This was the high golf IQ in Korda that Price spoke about. She is in Australia now, preparing for the Australian Ladies Masters followed by the ISPA Handa Women's Australian Open, an event she won in a six-way playoff two years ago.
Price will go in for a scan later this month, hoping doctors removed all the cancer. He's getting stronger by the day and was excited when we spoke yesterday after the second-place finish by Argentina's Emiliano Grillo, another pupil, in the Dubai Desert Classic. "I love what I do," he said. "It's just hard to do it now."