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Solheim Cup 2019: Korda sisters pairing pays off for U.S., but Europe takes early lead at Gleneagles

September 13, 2019

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

GLENEAGLES, Scotland — As statements go, this was pretty emphatic. At the end of a pre-match build-up in which the repeating mantra from both captains has been “get off to a good start,” the Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly, came through for U.S. captain Juli Inkster. Starting birdie-birdie—“I don’t think we could have dreamt of anything better,” was Nelly’s verdict—and playing the equivalent of two under par for the 14 holes, the sibling duo beat Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Caroline Masson, 6 and 4, to claim the opening point in Friday morning foursomes at the Solheim Cup. Red, not blue, was first on the board.

In truth, it wasn’t even that close, through a combination of Korda steadiness—“we had only one ‘oopsie,’ " said Nelly—and a series of painfully basic errors from, in particular Ewart-Shadoff. Time and again, the Englishwoman hit the poor shot that led to the American pair winning holes, sometimes without even having to putt out.

The point proved important for the United States as it was the lone match the Americans would win outright in the session, the Europeans taking a 2½ -1½ lead thanks to wins from the duos of Georgia Hall/Celine Boutier and Charley Hull/Azahara Munoz.

Not surprisingly, the Kordas were all smiles at the end of what was little more than a pleasant stroll around the Centenary Course at Gleneagles on a bright and breezy morning. All had gone according to plan. Well, almost.

Coached by Florida-based Englishman David Whelan, the pair had been warned not to “drift off” out on the course. Which is easy to do in foursomes, especially when it is possible to go as long as 30 minutes between putts. And it happened. Faced with a short putt on the 12th green, her first from that distance since the eighth, for what might have turned out to be a half, Nelly missed.

Not that her big sister was too bothered. “I know which of her buttons not to press, and she knows mine,” said Jessica. No cross words were spoken.

“If I hit a bad shot, she’s like, It’s fine. I’ve got this,” said the older Korda. “The same thing, if she hits a bad shot, it’s fine. I’ve got this. There’s no disappointment either way. I think that’s just really comforting, especially in this format.”

It wasn’t all hit-and-giggle, of course. Some thought and pre-planning had gone into their preparation for what is surely golf’s most demanding format. Because Nelly is seen as slightly the better iron player, the 21-year-old was hitting the tee shots at the even-numbered holes, which include three of the four par 3s. That made doublevsense given that Jessica, 26, is a little longer off the tee.

“We had fun starting on the driving range this morning, so it was really, relaxed,” said Jessica her ear-to-ear grin indicative of how things had gone. “We just had a great time, obviously playing together is just the ‘tip of the top.’ ”

Inkster would agree. Point made.