NAPLES, Fla. – You need look no further than the LPGA Tour to find ample evidence of the influence siblings can have on one another.
Brooke Henderson was motivated by her sister Brittany, who is six-years older than Brooke and her caddie on Tour. Ariya Jutanugarn followed in the footsteps of her sister Moriya to the LPGA Tour. This year, Nelly Korda, the younger sister of five-time winner Jessica, is finding her own success on the LPGA Tour.
Friday, Nelly matched the low round of the day with a 5-under par, 67 to jump into the top 5 heading into the weekend at the CME Group Tour Championship. It’s a familiar position for the second year member who finished T8 in her debut in Naples in 2017. That was the first time Nelly played Tiburón Golf Club, but it wasn’t the first time she laid eyes on it.
“I feel so comfortable out here,” Nelly said Friday. “I just feel at home because I’ve seen this golf course so many times.”
Nelly, who grew up two hours north of Naples in Bradenton, frequently made the trip south to watch Jessica play. For four years, Jessica competed in the season ending event, where Nelly observed and learned. All those years watching from outside the ropes are now paying dividends for Nelly on the inside.
“It’s wide, it’s a Bermuda-style golf course and I grew up in Florida,” Nelly said. “That’s the reason why I’m also so comfortable out here.”
Two weeks ago, Nelly took a huge step out of her sister’s shadow when she broke through for her maiden victory on the LPGA Tour at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. This time, it was Jessica who was watching from the outside from back home in Florida where she was nursing a wrist and arm injury. But Jessica was one of the first to celebrate with her sister when she returned home.
“I walked out of the house, she had this huge poster on our car that said ‘congratulations,’” Nelly said. “It’s a massive poster. It’s on social media.”
Thursday, both sisters were recognized at the season-ending Rolex LPGA Awards. Jessica received the Heather Farr Perseverance Award following off-season jaw surgery. Nelly introduced her sister with a video recorded message that showed her unwavering love and support for the sister she watched and emulated all her life. Nelly was also recognized during the evening’s ceremony as one of nearly a dozen first-time winners in 2018. It was a proud moment for the siblings who got to, for the first time on the LPGA Tour, share the stage together.
“I’m so proud of her coming this far, how she started the year to how she’s ended the year,” Nelly said. “It was great.”
Nelly heads into the weekend in Naples just four-strokes back of leader Lexi Thompson. And a win on Sunday would be another huge step for Nelly into her own spotlight.