Sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Oct. 28, Petr Korda popped a bottle of champagne. The Korda family’s trifecta – which spanned the globe from Australia to Thailand to Taiwan – was complete. All three Korda siblings won big in 2018, and for their father, Petr, it was worth every second of lost sleep.
“This is the time of their lives, in my opinion,” said Petr, a former Grand Slam tennis champ. “I’m happy they are doing what they love. They are the engines. I can be supporting act.”
The year began with Sebastian Korda, 18, claiming the Australian Open boys’ singles title 20 years after his father won the Australian Open. Sebastian imitated his father by scissor-kicking for the cameras in celebration. It proved the ultimate 50th birthday present for Petr, who serves as his son’s main coach but was back home in Bradenton, Fla.
Years ago when Petr was off caddying for eldest daughter Jessica, 25, in junior events, it was wife Regina who made sure Nelly, 20, was taken care of at the golf course before heading over to play tennis with Sebastian in the afternoon. Regina ranked as high as 26th in the world before suffering an injury.
It was always their choice, Sebastian said. Mom and dad provided the opportunities and encouragement. Sebastian knew tennis always would be the tougher road.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he said while in Naples, Fla., watching his big sisters compete in the CME Group Tour Championship. “Everybody knows my parents and how great they were in their tennis careers. It’s sometimes a lot of pressure, but you also have somebody who can give you the tools and knows how to get to the top.”
Nelly was competing at the season-opening event in the Bahamas when Sebastian won. Jessica was back home recovering from a brutal double jaw surgery that left her with 27 screws and changes to her face that came as a shock each time she looked in a mirror.
Little did Jessica know that Sebastian’s victory was a prelude to more success. The next month in Thailand, Jessica set tournament-scoring records en route to a fifth career title in her first start after surgery. Early on overseas, many couldn’t help but stare at Jessica’s new face. But by Sunday, the golf world was taken in by one of the year’s gutsiest performances.
Jessica had her best season to date at the majors, though she tweaked her forearm on the firm ground at the Women’s British Open. It was especially frustrating given that she had taken off the month prior from competition in preparation.
At the UL International Crown in South Korea, Korda’s forearm took another beating as she had to dig the ball out of holes that plagued the fairways. She ended up pulling out of several stops in Asia to rest for the CME.
Jessica praised instructor David Whelan for helping build a swing that holds up after long breaks and is simple to self-correct.
“I’m incredibly happy and grateful for the year that I had,” Jessica said while in South Korea. “Obviously would like it to be better, yes. You always want more. But with where I was with how I looked and how I felt, I’m very happy with where I am right now.”
Sebastian was at home in Bradenton with his parents when Nelly won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
“That was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. Jessica ordered a massive congratulatory banner and attached it to her car, surprising her sister in the driveway of the family home.
“It was misspelled,” Nelly said. “It was like ‘swinning’ instead of ‘swinging.’”
An amusing mistake that only adds to family lore. For the season, Nelly Korda edged her big sister on the money list, finishing 13th ($1,055,046) to Jessica’s 18th ($883,924).
“I think she learned she belongs,” Petr said of Nelly’s breakthrough year. “She belongs with the players on top.”
It’s family tradition. Gwk