Korda loses her breakfast, wins first Solheim point
PARKER, Colo. – As soon as Jessica Korda exited the gauntlet of screaming, costumed fans at No. 1 tee, she popped the first bite of a banana in her mouth. Halfway down the fairway, once partner Morgan Pressel had hit the approach, Korda knew that banana wasn’t staying down.
Sick suddenly from the rush of Solheim Cup nerves, Korda, 20, quickly stepped behind a tree.
“Do you mind if I just spit this out?” she asked the woman standing there. Then Korda tried to wash the taste down with water, and that came up too.
In the crowd a few holes later, younger sister Nelly Korda confessed to once puking at the beginning of her first golf tournament. Jessica, however, says this is a first.
“I don’t know what happened, I just know that the banana did not sit,” she said.
So begins the best rookie story yet this week, the taunting for which is surely far from over. After the round, European Suzann Pettersen approached Korda with a headcover in her outstretched hands, asking if Korda if she needed to puke in it. As Pressel pointed out in the fairway, the story is likely to live in infamy.
“I looked at her and I said, ‘Some day when you are captain of this team you can tell your team this story of what happened to you on your first Solheim Cup,’” Pressel said. “‘You’ll have a story for life.’”
Albeit graphic, the reappearing banana also is the start of another story – that of the gutsy rookie performance Korda displayed to help earn the Americans their only point in morning foursomes. Korda, far longer than Pressel, hit the opening tee shot for the pair so that she could also take the tee at the longest holes. It was good strategy, and Korda delivered.
Pressel and Korda went 1 up immediately with a par at No. 1, but lost it with a bogey at No. 4. They were square against opponents Catriona Matthew and Jodi Ewart Shadoff for only three holes, Nos. 4-6, before winning Nos. 7, 9 and 11 to put the advantage squarely in their corner.
Dormie at the par-5 16th, Korda dumped the tandem’s approach shot in a hazard right, but Pressel recovered to 6 feet. Korda made the winning putt.
It was fitting that these two should be the lone American point-getters. Pressel, with a 7-2-2 record in three previous Solheim Cups, has a reputation for coming alive in this format. Korda breathes youth, patriotism and team spirit into her first appearance.
“There’s not a player that’s embracing this moment more than Jessica Korda,” American captain Meg Mallon said after announcing foursomes pairings on Thursday.
If anything was difficult about the format for Korda, it was avoiding the temptation to root for travel buddy Ewart Shadoff, a 25-year-old rookie for the Europeans. Ewart Shadoff was the first to wrap Korda in a tight bear hug after Korda holed the winning putt at No. 16.
“At certain points, it was tough to watch (Ewart Shadoff),” Korda said. She found herself fighting to the urge to will her friend’s putts into the hole.
Ewart-Shadoff knew who her opponent would be by Thursday afternoon, but Korda didn’t find out until the pairings were announced at opening ceremonies later that day.
“It changes nothing,” Korda said of playing for different teams.
Just like normal, Korda and Ewart Shadoff will get their nails done together on Tuesday. The weekend’s gossip will just be a little better than normal.