Jessica Korda inspires with record win in 1st event since jaw surgery

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Jessica Korda inspires with record win in 1st event since jaw surgery


Jessica Korda inspires with record win in 1st event since jaw surgery

Jessica Korda knew Thailand would be tough. Her younger sister, Nelly, tried to prepare their peers for the fact that Jessica’s face had changed after major jaw surgery. Some LPGA players didn’t recognize her. Some said she looked more like Nelly now. Others simply stared.

“I look at pictures of myself and I don’t feel like I look like that person,” said Jessica. “I don’t know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn’t look like me either.”

Korda’s record-setting victory at Siam Country Club was a remarkable display of guts. Coming back from not only the physical challenges she faced with 27 screws holding her face together, but the mental hurdles too.

“It’s incredible,” said Korda. “This is my fifth title. Every single one is so special, but this one, this one is really, really cool. Coming in after surgery I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I was going to be received.”

Korda, who won for the first time since 2015 at Honda LPGA Thailand, went toe-to-toe with local favorite Moriya Jutanugarn in the final round. When Jutanugarn eagled the par-4 15th, the roar was so intense, Korda said, she had trouble walking forward.

“I told her that was the loudest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time,” said Korda. “Very, very cool.”

And when Korda punched it out of the trees on the ninth hole, she felt like Tiger Woods as the crowd rushed in behind her.

Korda’s closing 67 gave her a 25-under 263 tally, a 72-hole scoring record for this event. Her second-round 10-under 62 set a single-round record, as did the 36-hole mark of 16 under.

She finished four strokes ahead of Moriya and Lexi Thompson, who will rise to No. 2 in the world. No. 1 Shanshan Feng and Ariya Jutanugarn tied for fifth at 17 under.

“I don’t think any of us doubt how talented Jessica is,” said Thompson. “I think it shows coming out after surgery and that few-month break she had how much talent she actually has. She’s a player to always look out for.”

Nelly Korda dropped to a tie for 14th after a closing 72. Jessica could tell by her sister’s body language on the course that she had gotten off to a rough start.

“But every single one of these situations that she keep putting herself into she’s going to learn, she’s going to grow,” said Jessica. “I have no doubt in my mind that she’ll be up here one day, and one day very soon, holding up the trophy. I can’t wait to be there for her.”

Jessica, who turns 25 on Tuesday, comes from a family rich in sporting success. Both her parents played professional tennis, with father Petr winning a Grand Slam title. Younger brother Sebastian recently won the Australian Open junior title. Jessica said all three Korda siblings were lucky to have parents who gave them room to grow and make mistakes.

“I don’t know what my parents did,” said Jessica. “They should write a book. Our parents never pushed us to do anything that we necessarily didn’t want to do. You know, I hadn’t talked to my dad almost all week, and today he knew I was nervous and called me and calmed me down. They just know. They’ve been in these situations. They’ve been here. They know what that’s like. It’s not a surprise what we’re feeling.”

Korda came into the week with zero expectations. She had surgery on Dec. 7 to correct a severe overbite. Her jaw was broken in three places at the top and twice at the bottom. They broke her nose to get the breathing tube in. For weeks her mother fed her through a syringe.

Korda’s face is still numb but the headaches are gone. She can sleep better, too.

When asked if she ever dreamed she’d be back in the winner’s circle this soon, Korda teared up.

“All this stuff is just still really hard,” she said, “but I’m really, really happy that I chose to come back in this event, exactly where I started my rookie year in 2011. I don’t think I could have asked for a better win.”


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