NAPLES — Nelly Kordspan may not win the Rolex Player of the Year. That trophy likely is headed for a case inside Lydispan Ko’s home.
She probably will not take home the $2 million prize that goes to the winner of this week’s CME Group Tour Championship.
But she is in position to retain her status as the No. 1-ranked women’s golfer in the world.
And considering what the Sarasota resident faced this year, whether she is No. 1 or No. 2, Korda’s last six months have been an inspiration.
Korda’s re-ascent to the top of the rankings was complete a week ago when she won the Pelican LPGA Championship in Belleair. That came about eight months after undergoing surgery for a life-threatening blood clot.
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Korda’s father, Petr, told Golfweek his 24-year-old daughter is “very fortunate she’s alive.” Korda’s swing instructor, Jamie Mulligan, then told Golfweek the clot was two centimeters from her heart. “She could’ve died,” he said.
Nelly on blood clot: ‘definitely not that bad’
But Nelly has been more guarded than her dad and coach, even downplaying the clot’s seriousness. Her approach is personal and her decision does not diminish the courage she has displayed since getting back on the course, and the significance of her returning to the top of her game.
And for Korda, that is a level few have reached at her age. Not only has she won eight times on the LPGA Tour, including one major, Korda captured the gold medal in women’s individual golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
But she was not happy her coach revealed more details than she would have liked about her condition and then said it was “blown out of proportion a good bit.” She would not elaborate but even made light of the report.
“It was definitely not that bad,” she said this week while laughing. “But I’m very private about my medical history, my medical issues. So in a sense, yeah, I think that article is just blown out of proportion, honestly.”
Last Sunday, after her victory at the Pelican, she said the “uncertainty” was the scariest part.
“As a golfer, I feel like my life is planned out,” she said. “I know where I’m going next, I know what to do next, or you would hope to know. But just getting hit with something like this and just not knowing what to do or what my next step was.”
What has not been blown out of proportion is Korda’s remarkable rebound.
Korda played three events this season before the blood clot was discovered in March while she was in Ponte Vedra Beach doing an instruction shoot. She underwent surgery and returned to competition in June for the U.S. Women’s Open and tied for eighth.
Now, she pursuing her seventh top-10 finish since returning.
Korda in place to finish season ranked No. 1
Korda shot a 1-over 73 Saturday and will enter Sunday’s final round of the Tour Championship tied for 12th at 6-under, nine shots behind co-leaders Ko (70) and Leona Maguire (63). As for retaining her No. 1 ranking, No. 2 Atthaya Thitikul , No. 3 Ko and No. 4 Jin Young Ko all remain mathematically alive to claim the top spot. Korda entered the weekend 12th on the season money list with just more than $1.3 million in 14 events, the fewest among the top 50 on the list.
Considering that playing golf again, let alone returning to world-class play, wasn’t even a thought in the spring, what Korda has accomplished cannot be overstated.
“I had no expectations coming back, which I guess in a sense was good,” she said. “I feel like expectations definitely drive you to go insane in a sense, and I feel like it’s good to have people around you to kind of calm you down and bring you back to earth. I’ve had that, so I’m definitely very grateful for them.
“Even with what I’ve gone through, I’ve felt like the beginning of the year is like another year. I feel like last year in a sense, like, is light-years away. That’s kind of what we try to focus on is the present. I think we do a really good job with that.”