Golf – Korda sisters follow in father’s footsteps on sports path

LPGA: KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Final Round

By Andrew Both

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois (Reuters) – Jessica and Nelly Korda are friends as well as competitors on the LPGA Tour, where the sisters are showing similar proficiency with a golf club as their father Petr demonstrated wielding a tennis racket.

With Wimbledon in full swing, former world number two Petr is at the All England Club to support his son Sebastian in the Wimbledon boys’ competition, while the Korda sisters keep each other company and keep up the family passion for sports on the golf circuit.

Jessica, a four-times LPGA winner, is long established, while this is the rookie season for Nelly, who at 18 is nearly six years younger than Jessica.

They are a close-knit family, as was evident after the first round at the Women’s PGA Championship last Thursday, where Nelly stopped on the way from the 18th green to the scoring area to call out to Jessica, who was extracting her clubs from her car on arriving for a later tee time.

“She’s my best friend and having her out here means a lot,” Nelly told Reuters. “She just guides me and having her out here makes me feel really comfortable so it definitely helps.”

Asked for an example of how Jessica helps, Nelly said: “Little things here and there that are really tiny.”

Jessica, speaking to Reuters the next day, was more specific: “She’s always forgetting things,” Jessica said, a rueful smile on her face.

“Where do you want me to start? Phone. She’s always forgetting her phone.”

Jessica then told of a time her teenaged sister left some fruit in her car.

“We get inside and (she says) ‘OK, I forgot my fruit,'” related Jessica. “It was two seconds ago. I told you, your freakin’ fruit was right there.”

Nelly and Jessica both played tennis among many sports when they were children, but their father’s post-career passion for golf rubbed off.

“We love sports, very sport-oriented. (We) figure skated, gymnastics, occasionally tennis, skied. We did all sorts of things,” said Nelly.

“When my dad retired he started golfing and my sister started and I just followed in their footsteps. Dad’s really good. He shoots around even-par. He was a scratch (golfer). He still beat me two or three years ago.”

Nelly decided to focus on golf after qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open as a 14-year-old amateur.

She is having a solid first season, 45th on the LPGA money list, while Jessica is 27th. Both of them performed well at the Women’s PGA with Jessica equal 14th, a stroke ahead of Nelly, who tied for 20th.

Jessica, Nelly and Sebastian all hold dual U.S. and Czech citizenship, due to their parents’ heritage.

“I’m more Czech than my sister and my brother in a lot of the things I do and say and think, considering I lived there until 2008,” said Jessica.

“Nelly and Sebastian are very American. I’m a good split, in-between personality wise.”

But Jessica makes clear her allegiance to the U.S. — and not just for team golf.

“America is my chosen country for everything,” she said. “I’m very patriotic. Nobody can ever take that away from me.”

Both are fully aware of their father’s tennis achievements, even if the 1998 Australian Open champion is not one to boast.

“We don’t really talk about it much but I know everything,” said Nelly, who has watched clips of her father on YouTube and notes how skinny he was back then.

“We used to have a trophy room so all his trophies were there,” said Nelly.

“It was cool growing up seeing that. We’re very proud.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Larry Fine)