JOHNS CREEK, Ga. | It caught everyone off guard, including them. When Nelly Korda made the uphill 12-footer for par on the final green at Atlanta Athletic Club to capture her first major title and ascend to the projected No.1 spot in the Rolex Rankings, her mother and sister trotted onto the green to hug her. When she saw them, the normally stoic 22-year-old burst into tears.
About 20 minutes later, she broke down again when the subject of family came up.
“It's honestly so nice to spend (this win) with them,” Nelly said. “Jess has done so much for my family, and I honestly I wouldn't be here without her. And my mom, too. It's so special.”
Embracing family and sharing the emotions of a win are nothing new in golf. Every week a winner celebrates with family and friends through tears of joy and relief. But the Kordas are different, special in a way that few if any families can understand.
Two hours before Nelly rolled in the 12-footer for par on the final green to shoot 19-under and win by three, sister Jessica birdied that same hole to finish T15 and secure a spot alongside Nelly on the U.S. Olympic team. “It’s going to be a different experience,” Jess said afterward. “But we’re excited about representing our country.”
Their mother, Regina Rajchrtova, also knows what it takes to be a champion. She was a professional tennis player who reached No.26 in the world before retiring after a knee injury. And represented her native Czechoslovakia in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Regina walked nine holes with Jess on Sunday and then caught Nelly on the first tee and walked all 18 with the champion.
Their father Petr would normally have been in Atlanta. But he’s in England with the youngest Korda sibling, Sebastian, who is in the main draw at Wimbledon. Sebe, as he is known, won an ATP event earlier in the year and is on track to make the U.S. Davis Cup team. Petr, also a tennis champion, won the 1998 French Open and reached No. 2 in the world rankings.
They are arguably the most successful nuclear family of athletes in history with both parents and all three siblings reaching the tops of their respective sports.
“You don't realize it until someone talks about it because we're always so in the zone,” Nelly said of all that her family has accomplished. “We're always just striving to achieve more. And for our family just to back each other through every situation -- Seb is top 50 in the world. Man, a year ago he was outside 200. He's playing at Wimbledon this year. It's so surreal. And Jess has won (on the LPGA Tour) this year. Honestly, it doesn't really sink in until someone says it And then you're like, ‘oh, wow, yeah, that's actually really cool.’”
Cool is one word for it. Extraordinary is another.
But as great as they are in their respective sports, what makes the Kordas so special is their bond. Jess was just as emotional as Nelly after the victory. And when they reached Petr and Seb via FaceTime, the love was unmistakable.
“My parents are the greatest,” Nelly said. “They would sacrifice anything. And they would take the shirts off their backs for us. We wouldn't be here without them.
As for her sister, Nelly said, “She has a heart of gold. She's the most selfless person out there. I mean, she's five years older so she has shown me the ropes of the LPGA Tour, the ropes of professional golf, and I've been super lucky to have been showed that because a lot of people don't get that opportunity.
“If I'm struggling, she's right there for me. I can't thank her enough for everything she has done and for how selfless of a person she is.”
They would all say the same for her, with or without the tears.