NAPLES, Fla. – The statuesque Korda sisters were among the stars that headlined the annual Rolex LPGA Awards dinner. Jessica and Nelly Korda walked hand-in-hand to the stage at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., as Jessica was presented the Heather Farr Perseverance Award.
Jessica, of course, came back from major double jaw surgery to win in her first start back in Thailand. Nelly, also a winner in 2018, introduced her big sister and helped present the award, given to a player who, through her hard work, dedication and love of the game of golf, has demonstrated determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals as a player.
“Because it is voted on by the players, it’s incredible just to feel the love from everyone in the room and everyone out on tour,” said Jessica. “This surgery has changed not only the way that I look but obviously the way I feel.”
So Yeon Ryu, one of the most popular players on the LPGA among players, media and fans alike, won the William & Mousie Powell Award, given to the player who most exemplifies the spirit and ideals of the LPGA.
“To be honest, during my first few years on the tour I thought I deserved to be treated like a queen just because I played golf well,” said Ryu, drawing laughs.
The poised and mature Ryu, a two-time major winner, now goes out of her way to make sure sponsors, volunteers, pro-am partners and fans know she’s appreciative of everyone who works to ensure that she has a place to compete.
Two of the biggest awards of the evening – Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and the Rolex Player of the Year – were decided long before players arrived in Naples. A humble Ariya Jutanugarn accepted her second Player of the Year Award and first Rolex Annika Major Award from Annika Sorenstam.
Rookie Jin Young Ko stole the hearts of everyone in the room with her heartfelt speech, which she delivered in English without the help of a translator.
At one point, Ko rattled off a list nine sponsors before pausing to ask, “Can I keep going?”
The room erupted in laughter.
From there the classy South Korean tugged at heartstrings as she thanked her parents and late grandfather.
“Finally I’d like to thank my parents for raising me to be a very hard-working and happy person,” she said, growing emotional as she pointed toward mom and dad.