ANA Inspiration week is here and with it, a different type of pressure. The first-tee jitters, even without fans, seem to hit harder; the bunkers look bigger. Yet Nelly Korda has found a way to revel in it.
The current World No. 4 competed at Mission Hills Country Club in 2014 and 2015 as an amateur on a sponsor invitation. She missed the cut both years. When she arrived at golf’s first major in 2017 as a professional, she flipped the script and has played the weekend in every appearance since.
“I feel like a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves when it comes to major championships,” said Korda, who earned her career-best finish in a major championship with a tie for second at the 2020 ANA Inspiration. “I have learned to put the same mindset to every tournament and not put so much pressure on them. You want to win, but I feel like people get in their heads when they get to a major.”
Her formula to alleviate any pressure and not twist her own mind is simple: relax. She puts an emphasis on playing to practice but limits it to nine holes on pre-tournament days. If it’s a course that Korda is not familiar with, the strategy may change. But she knows the Dinah Shore Tournament Course like the back of her hand.
“It comes from experience and learning what works best for myself,” said Korda, a four-time LPGA Tour champion who most recently won the 2021 Gainbridge LPGA in February. “Try to keep it more relaxed because there’s a lot more pressure that comes with a major. The more relaxed you are, the more you’re enjoying yourself and I feel like the better it will be.”
Korda added there’s no pressure or unfinished business having lost in a three-way, sudden-death playoff last year. Rather, “it’s more of letting it go and starting [the process] all over again.” She begins another hunt for her first major championship title on Thursday at 7:43 a.m. PT off the 10th tee alongside playing partners Mel Reid and Shanshan Feng, set to make her first LPGA Tour start since the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship.