This has already been a good week for former tennis star Petr Korda on multiple levels, and it could get even better. Not only is he getting the rare chance to watch in person his daughters, Nelly and Jessica, compete on the LPGA Tour but one of them - Nelly - will be heading into the final round of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in solo second place, three strokes off the lead.
All this after a very, very special year for the Korda family. On Jan. 27, Sebastian Korda clinched the Australian Open junior tennis crown on the 20th anniversary of his father Petr’s grand slam victory in the main event Down Under. The following month, Jessica claimed her fifth career title on the LPGA Tour at the Honda LPGA Thailand, having barely played any golf for nearly three months after having major jaw surgery that left 27 screws in her mouth. Then last month, Nelly finally landed a breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour, a closing 4-under 68 earning her a two-stroke triumph at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
Could this year have been any better for proud father Petr? "No, it doesn't get any better," Petr told LPGA.com. "It's been a very good year, even if there were still a lot of bumps and bruises. But I think all of them (my children) they are doing what they love, playing their own sport and coming every day, working hard and collecting some fruit at the end."
Petr, a former tennis world number two, won the 1998 Australian Open among his 10 ATP Tour titles but he says that none of his personal achievements comes even close to the level of satisfaction and pride he has gained from watching his children flourish in their own sports.
"You can't compare it," he said, after watching Nelly play the last eight holes in Saturday's third round at Tiburon Golf Club before she signed for a 5-under 67. "What my children are achieving means much more. It's the same for me and for my wife," he added, referring to Regina, a former professional tennis player from Czechoslovakia. "My titles and my two majors (one in singles and one in doubles) are meaningless. Driving their bus every day, and seeing them fail, not on a daily basis, seeing them win - that is what my life is all about, and I am enjoying every bit of it."
Asked how he managed to balance his time between watching his daughters play professional golf and his son Sebastian compete in tennis, Petr replied with a grin: "I'm on the road! There's not much I can do! We are always on the move. I wish it would be a little bit different but actually we are very fortunate that at least both girls are playing the same sport in the same week and I have managed this year to get to three tournaments on the LPGA Tour. I was at the ANA (Inspiration), the U.S. Women's Open and now this week is my third one. My wife did a little bit more because I was with Sebby but hopefully next year I will be able to balance a little bit more because I like to spend time with the girls, and we'll see."
SWITCHING TIME ZONES
When Jessica and Nelly are competing in Asia on the LPGA Tour, Petr stays at home in Bradenton, Florida but he switches to the Asian time zone so that he can be freely available should either of his daughters need to make direct contact with him.
"When they are playing over there, I stay up until the last shot," he said. "Sometimes I'm very lucky and I can watch the Golf Channel live stream, which is fantastic. But I don't like to watch the scores because it gets into my nerves. So when my kids are abroad, I am up because if they would need something to discuss, I want to be around for that. So I am always very pleased when the Asian Tour or the Australian Open is over so I could have some extra time in the bed for myself!"
Another highlight for the Korda family this week was the 2018 Rolex LPGA Awards ceremony, which took place on Thursday night in the Tiburon Ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. Jessica earned the Heather Farr Perseverance Award, which honors an LPGA 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. That moment was made even more special for Jessica with Nelly introducing her as the award winner via video introduction and then accompanying her up to the stage and presenting her with the trophy.
A little later, Nelly was one of 10 Rolex First-Time Winners who were widely applauded as they walked to the stage and received Rolex watches to commemorate their breakthrough victories on the LPGA Tour.
Petr, however, chose not to be there in the audience that evening.
"I saw all their pictures from that night, but I have done many awards in the past," he smiled. "This is about my kids now. This is about their time, so they need to shine. I was very happy that I could be dressed in jeans sitting in a pub that evening having beer and enjoying my life."