Nelly Korda’s chances going into the first major — Interview with LPGA rookie Auston Kim

The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, April 11, 2024

Happy Masters and Golf Thursday, folks! It’s the game’s most coveted week, and I hope you have planned accordingly (my phone is on “do not disturb,” and pimento-cheese dip is loaded in the fridge). As things kick off in Augusta, let’s recap the unbelievable and historic run that world No. 1 Nelly Korda has been on and how she’ll fair next week at the Chevron Championship.

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After winning for the third straight week and fourth consecutive start, Korda joins an elite group of players who have accomplished the same feat. She’s the first to win four events in a row since Lorena Ochoa in 2008 and the first American to do so since Nancy Lopez in 1978.

In her hometown of Bradenton, Florida, Korda edged Lydia Ko in the LPGA Drive On Championship during a playoff to capture her ninth tour win — beginning her hot streak.

And while the rest of the tour jetted off to Asia for a couple of weeks, Korda took nearly seven weeks off to train in Prague. Focusing on her physical strength and endurance, Korda is looking forward to a season without injury. “My goal into this year was to be happy and healthy,” she said. “I don’t want to train like a golfer. I want to train like an athlete. Thankfully my team and I, we all have the same outlook on it. Just honestly, just a full-body strengthening session.”

The past two seasons have been rather rocky for Korda. In early 2022, she needed emergency surgery to treat a blood clot, sidelining her from competition for months. Last May, at the last minute, she pulled out of the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open due to a back injury. Korda is quite protective about her health and never dwells on the topic when asked, always affirming that if she’s playing she feels confident in her abilities.

It’s nice to see and hear in her own words that Korda feels energized but is relishing the short break this week. “Honestly, I’m feeling really good,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s going to hit me when I get home, but I feel really good.”

In her most recent win in Vegas, Korda looked a touch out of form in the opening round of stroke play (she fired a 73), but quickly recovered, taking down her opponents rather effectively. She never saw holes 17 and 18 all weekend.

So what does this mean as we look ahead to next week and the first major of the season?

Well, Korda finished solo third last year at The Club at Carlton Woods, one stroke behind defending champ Lilia Vu and Angel Yin, who went into a playoff. But last year isn’t this year, and golf can be as unpredictable as April weather, but I do like the odds of Korda winning her fifth consecutive event.

Watching her these last few weeks is like watching a video game — everything is automatic. But the majors have an interesting way of pulling out the best out of everyone, and I see a few players who have the potential to challenge Korda.

Yin is back and hitting it further than before her injury. Alison Lee has strung together quite a few solid rounds of golf lately and is seeking her maiden victory. Rookie Gabi Ruffels had a breakthrough week in Palos Verdes that can help her build momentum. And though she’s been relatively quiet since the opening tournament of the season, you can never count out Ko.

Korda, much like Scottie Scheffler feels … inevitable? No matter what they do or what others are doing, they just find a way to get it done. It’s been quite some time since golf has had these dominating players (perhaps it’s a bit too early to call it domination?), but it creates excitement no matter what because we simply get to be in awe of their abilities.

Major season is upon us, and I think it’ll be a historic summer of golf ahead of us — happy watching!

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This week in women’s golf

If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at! Discussion of any kind is always welcome. … I mean it. … MESSAGE ME!

LPGA news

Augusta National Chairman shuts down LPGA stars playing Masters course

Celebrating Judy Rankin, one of golf’s original glass-breakers

World-class field finalized for the Chevron Championship

Angel Yin is back from injury and hitting it longer — a top teacher explains how

LET news

The LET is celebrating its Founders, meet Alison Sheard

The race for the Paris Olympics is heating up

Epson Tour news

Epson Tour boasts strong past and bright futures

Epson Tour will get more streaming exposure with new partnership

The latest in the Race for the Card standings

NCAA/amateur news

Augusta National Women’s Amateur champ Lottie Woad chooses LPGA major over ACCs

ANWA runner-up Bailey Shoemaker will be back

SEC Women’s Championship Preview: Can the Aggies repeat?

Two-time USGA champion and LPGA veteran Tiffany Joh named newest U.S. national coach

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Five at The IX: My chat with 2024 rookie Auston Kim

This week I had the chance to chat with 2024 LPGA Rookie Auston Kim — a player I was excited about watching this year!

Kim, a Florida native, played golf at Vanderbilt and went on to pursue her dreams of professional golf on the Epson Tour, where she recorded 10 top-10 finishes, including a win at the Epson Tour Championship, earning her LPGA Tour membership for this season.

We discussed her season thus far, what being on tour is like and who her pick is to wear the coveted green jacket Sunday. Enjoy!

Author’s note: Conversation was edited for readability.

Describe your rookie season, so far, in a sentence (or two). 

[Laughs.] OK. I’ll say I’m having the time of my life, and I’m learning a lot about myself.

What’s been a standout moment for you in your first five events on tour?

Blue Bay in China was my first tournament overseas ever. So, sitting on that plane for a long time, I think my total travel time was like 50 hours or something. It was really, really tough on the body once I got there, and it was very, very hot in China. Where we were was very humid and very warm. A little bit different than, I mean, actually pretty similar to a Florida summer. If I could describe that trip in one word, definitely be tiring.

Chevron is next week. How have you been preparing leading up to the season’s first major?

The last five tournaments that I played in, there was a lot of good. And there’s a lot that I can work on and improve. And I mean, this past week it’s nice coming back home because I haven’t been home in a while and getting to just practice again, instead of preparing for a tournament or playing on the course, which is really nice and something that I can control.

Right now, I’m just focused on getting my fundamentals sound and solid again, the things that I know matter. Mentally, just building on the confidence that I’m working on here at home, like trying to just get 1% better every day, stack those bricks up.

When I get to Chevron, I can trust and know that I’ve been putting in a lot of work the past couple of weeks, and there have been a lot of good shots and just trusting myself knowing that I’m capable. I have the shots and the tools, but also being able to have that confidence and fuel my game. There are a lot of things that translate into confidence, such as body language and my internal mental environment. So I’m just really trying to keep those things in check.

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What is the biggest difference between the LPGA Tour and the Epson Tour?

I’d say there’s a lot more playing time. Yes, in the schedule, just because there are more events in general, but also we have an extra day of competition basically every single week, which means I have another day of prep. I would usually take my Mondays off during the Epson schedule, just because we would start competing on Friday. But now it’s like, I play Thursday, Friday, hopefully, Saturday, Sunday and earn my weekend. And then Sunday night we’re traveling to the next place.

And then like Monday, I’m ready to go. I’m practicing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then we go again, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So there’s a lot more competing, more playing and a ton more practicing. And then again, the travel is different.

I think that of course the level of competition and the stakes are higher. I hate to say that [laughs], but there’s more pressure. There’s more money to be played for. There are CME points to be played for. So, at the end of the day, a bigger stage with more golf and more practice.

But I’m living the dream, so I wouldn’t change anything.

Who’s your pick to win the 2024 Masters?

I’m a die-hard Rory [McIlroy] fan, but that’s a bit unfortunate. My heart says Viktor Hovland, but I’m pretty sure Scottie is going to do it again.

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Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
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Written by Addie Parker