Equality first, respect later: Nellie Korda believes new mixed team event is ‘perfect’ next step to grow women’s golf



CNN

When he met two of the PGA Tour’s best at Nellie Court in December, he received rave reviews.

“It shows the other ladies that anybody can beat her, because it was impressive,” Max Homa told reporters at the Kevin Kisner QBE Shootout, after meeting Korda and Denny McCarthy in the team’s informal money event. PGA Tour.

Kisner, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, equally impressed the women’s world No.2.

“I think I called him the Tiger Woods of the LPGA Tour at one point,” Kisner added. “I asked him if he wins every tournament. He said no. I’m like, ‘I don’t believe you.'”

When asked about the accolade in January, Korda had a point.

“They should watch more women’s golf,” Korda told reporters with a laugh.

“They were very kind to me, but I think if they came out here and watched all the girls compete, they would have had the same effect.”

In December, the QBE Shootout will be replaced by The Grant Thornton Invitational at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples. It will see 32 players – 16 from the LPGA Tour and 16 from the PGA Tour – compete in a mixed team event for a $4 million prize purse.

Not since Laura Davis and John Daly paired up to co-host the last JCPenney Classic in 1999 have the two tours held a mixed team event together every year. Korda could not have been more excited.

“It’s something very unique and special, and I’m very grateful to be a part of it,” he said.

JOHNS CREEK, GEORGIA - JUNE 27: Nellie Korda poses with the trophy after winning the 18th green during the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club on June 27, 2021 in Johns Creek, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin S. Cox/Getty Images)

Nellie Korda’s first major title is Family Affair

Part of Korda’s enthusiasm comes from her belief that the event is the next step in the growth of the women’s game – the 24-year-old says it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

“By gradually growing and learning from our mistakes, I think the end result is that our foundation is stronger than if we were growing fast all at once,” Korda said.

“It’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown from where we were 10 years ago to where we are now and the respect we’ve received.

“You can have equality, but you still can’t have respect from people. I think once you get respect, all species come together and it’s much more than equality.”

Korda starred in the QBE Shootout show.

Both Korda and her sister Jessica, the world No. 25, will be paired with Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler to join the big names in the men’s event. Despite five PGA Tour wins, they are still considered two of the most talented golfers to have never won a major.

Finau Korda co-stars as one of the leading lights on the Netflix show Full Swing documenting the 2022 PGA Tour season. Episode six sees the American cutie working hard to balance her career as a golfer with family commitments.

“He’s such a good guy, he’s so sweet,” Korda said.

“I’m sure everyone knows that with the Netflix documentary that came out about the PGA Tour and I heard that episode was a really big hit.

“I’m happy to get to know him better and I think he’s a very strong player. I am very happy to compete with him.”

Fowler (left) and Finau (right) played together at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia.

But one team race will surely trump all others for Korda this season. In September, all eyes will be on the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalusia, Spain.

Team USA will be under pressure to avoid a European three-peat after losses at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2019 and home defeats at Inverness in Ohio in 2021.

Korda, who lost on both occasions, is tasting victory at the Solheim Cup for the first time. With her sister Lexi Thompson, Danielle Kang, Lilia Wu and Jennifer Kupcho coming off strong seasons, Team USA captain Stacey Lewis was spoiled for choice when choosing her 12-player roster.

“At the end of the day, golf is so personal, so having teammates and not just playing for yourself, play for them, play for your captain, play for your country,” he said.

“It brings a whole new level of respect and it’s really exciting. Every time I get a chance to do that, I’m filled with pride.”

Korda at the 2021 Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Korda, who finished second behind New Zealand’s Lydia Ko in women’s golf, enjoyed electric performances on both sides of the new year. Three consecutive top-six finishes to start 2023 led to a hot 2022, capped by three top-ten finishes at the Foundation, including a win at the Pelican Women’s Championship in November.

After announcing she would miss the Chevron Championship in March 2022 due to blood clots in her arm, she returned in May for the US Women’s Open, just her fourth start of the season.

Defending her title at the Pelican Women’s Championship – her first of the season on the LPGA Tour and the eighth of her career – was an emotional moment for Korda, who was overcome with emotion after her victory.

Korda poses with the Pelican Women's Championship trophy after winning in Belleair, Florida.

“2022 was difficult at the beginning… it was special for me to win at the end,” said Korda.

“Every year you strive to be your best self on the golf course, both as a player and as a person.

“If I can have fun and stay healthy, I know I can do my best.”

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