First family of sport? Nelly’s golf gold burnishes Korda dynasty

Sports Tokyo 2020

Family ties: Jessica Korda (right) runs onto the 18th green to celebrate sister Nelly's Olympic gold. AFP
Family ties: Jessica Korda (right) runs onto the 18th green to celebrate sister Nelly’s Olympic gold. AFP

Kawagoe, Japan | AFP

by Daniel HICKS

Golfer Nelly Korda’s gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday has turned a special sporting 2021 for her talented family into a glittering year.

As older sister Jessica ran to Nelly and embraced her to celebrate, it was just the latest stunning success for one of the world’s most impressive sporting families.

A month earlier, tennis-playing brother Sebastian, 21, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time and then cracked the world’s top 50.

The parents were not too bad on the tennis court either. Father Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open while mother Regina Rajchrtova was also a professional, both representing their native Czech Republic.

But their children are all American. 

Jessica, 28, has six LPGA Tour wins, including this year’s Tournament of Champions, and is currently ranked 14th.

But it is world number one Nelly who is fast putting the rest of her family in the shade.
The 23-year-old rose to the top of the global rankings for the first time after winning her maiden major at the Women’s PGA Championship in June.

Six weeks later she has added Olympic gold, and she will be looking to continue her phenomenal run of three wins in her past five starts at the Scottish Open and British Open over the coming weeks.

Inseparable sisters

Nelly was a successful amateur before turning pro as a teenager in 2016 on the second-tier Symetra Tour, where she won a tournament to earn an LPGA Tour card.

Her first main tour win came in 2018 in Taiwan. A year later she won the Women’s Australian Open to complete a “family slam” Down Under, adding to Petr’s 1998 Australian Open, Jessica’s 2012 Women’s Australian Open and Sebastian’s 2018 Australian Open boys’ singles.

The Kordas are only the third pair of sisters in history to both win LPGA titles, joining Thailand’s Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn and Sweden’s Charlotta and Annika Sorenstam.

They even won consecutive tournaments earlier this year.

Jessica triumphed at the Tournament of Champions in January this year and the following month it was Nelly’s turn at the Gainbridge LPGA.

The sisters have become inseparable as they travel the world.

“I don’t know what I would do without Jess,” said Nelly this week. “I think we had a conversation like a couple days ago

”I was like ‘so you’re going to be playing until the end of my career too, right? You’re not going to leave me?’ I’m just super-grateful to have her, honestly, every step of the way,“ added Nelly. 

Jessica was grateful to have her sister join her on tour, saying it had rekindled her own passion for the game.

”It’s really lonely and it’s really hard to be out here on your own,“ said Jessica, whose rookie year on the LPGA Tour was back in 2011.

”It’s just been really fun. I have a younger brother and a younger sister, so it’s not like my parents could come out every week and travel with me, so I did a lot of it on my own. 

“Then just having her come out, it really refreshed a lot of the love of the game and the love for the tour and kind of just like wanting to be out here and doing this with her.”

dh/jw

© Agence France-Presse

Tokyo 2020 AFP