Solheim Cup 2019: We hung out with Regina Korda to see what it's like to watch your daughters make history
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GLENEAGLES, Scotland — Regina Korda is easy to spot. She’s statuesque, like her daughters who are both nearly six feet, and carries herself with a quiet yet intense energy. It’s the demeanor of someone who has the perspective to understand what it means to have daughters making history, and the ability to handle the moment gracefully.
On Friday morning at Gleneagles, Jessica and Nelly Korda not only joined Charlotta and Annika Sorenstam as the only other set of sisters to compete on the same Solheim Cup team, but became the first to play together in a pairing. U.S. captain Juli Inkster didn’t initially want to pair the sisters, citing their differences in personality. But they wanted to play together and convinced Inkster to give it a try in foursomes play, given how similar their games are.
Facing Europe’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson, Jessica and Nelly walked out together through the tunnel on the first hole in a cloud of pyrotechnic smoke. Nelly, 21, took a moment to video the cheering, singing crowd on her phone. Jessica, 26, hit the first drive, and off they went.
Following along was Regina, who handled her emotions thanks to all the practice she’s had for handling these types of situations. Growing up in the Czech Republic, she played tennis—under her maiden name, Rajchrtová. A highlight of her career was competing in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Her husband, Petr, was also a professional tennis player, ranked as high as No. 2 in the world at one time. The highlight of his career was winning the 1998 Australian Open.
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Regina retired in 1993, the year Jessica was born. Nelly was born in 1998, and their son, Sebastian, in 2000. Her first experience watching someone close to her compete was with Petr. Shifting from competitor to onlooker was a difficult transition.
“Watching is very hard,” Regina says. “It’s easy to play.”
The toughest part, Regina says, is going from being in control of the moment to having absolutely no control at all.
With time, though, she’s gotten more used to it, watching her daughters rise through junior golf and eventually become successful professionals. It helps to have been around the tour so much and to have lived a life around professional sports. Having a little space from golf makes it easier, too. Regina says she gets a bit more nervous when she’s watching Sebastian play tennis now as a professional.
“I was very nervous when Jessica was starting playing on the tour, but it gets easier,” Regina said. “There’s nothing I can do. I just need to support them. At the end, it’s just a sport.”
This moment, though nerve-wracking, has a different feel because of how unique and special it is. The ability for the sisters to share this common experience isn’t just one of the biggest moments of their career, but one of the most satisfying.
“Not just for us,” Regina said of watching Jessica and Nelly play together. “It was also a dream for them.”
Any early nervous tension faded quickly, the Kordas winning four of the first five holes. Masson and Shadoff never had a moment where they looked like they might be able to turn the momentum.
Regina’s demeanor, meanwhile, stayed steady throughout. She never cheered loudly for good shots and gave no visual cues to whether the bad shots bother her.
The crowds, too, embraced the sister act. Obviously, American fans were cheering for them, but even the Europeans occasionally rallied behind them. In a thick Scottish accent, a man called out to Jessica, asking her to marry him. The sisters laugh.
Despite their European roots, Regina and Petr are wearing USA gear as they watch their daughters, something that the sisters joked about before the match.
“We made sure they’re going to be wearing red, white and blue,” Nelly said.
“If you see our dad around, he better have his U.S.A. beanie on,” Jessica said, laughing.
In that press conference they were also asked if their parents gave them advice on what it’s like to play for your country.
“They haven’t really said much,” Nelly said. “They always kept saying just to play our game, and they know we will play well if we are confident.”
Regina, watching her daughters confidently earn the Americans lone victory of the Friday foursomes session in the chilly morning in Scotland, confirmed that she didn’t give them any advice before they set out.
“No,” she said. “Just enjoy.”
After decisively taking the match, 6 and 4, it’s safe to say that the women did, indeed, enjoy themselves.
As did Regina, who with the win secured, showed off a big smile. Shortly she’ll be back out doing it again, watching in afternoon four-balls. Only this time the sisters won’t be together, Inkster hoping their success can rub off on their teammates. And that brings a new challenge. When you’re watching your daughters make history, you don’t want to miss a single shot.
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