It will be a busy week for one of the dads in the PNC Championship this week. Petr Korda will be playing in the two-person event, formerly known as the Father-Son, with daughter, Nelly, the Rolex Rankings No.1 player in the world. But dad is pulling double duty. The grand slam tennis champion will be leaving the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando and driving 14 miles east out FL-417 to the United States Tennis Association National Campus to hit a few volleys with his youngest child, Sebastian, currently ranked 41 in the world at age 21.
“I will be mixing up golf and tennis this week,” Petr said as he and Nelly answered questions at the PNC.
Nelly quickly joked, “As long as she shows up in one piece on Saturday, we're good to go.”
The duo will make a little tournament history when they tee off this weekend. It will be the first time the current world No.1 in the women’s game has played in the PNC Championship. Annika Sorenstam played with her father Tom, but that came after Annika’s retirement from the LPGA Tour.
The Kordas aren’t here to focus on history, though. They do enough of that with their incredible athleticism every week. Nelly is No.1 in the world; older sister Jessica, who got married last Saturday, sits at No.22 in the Rolex Rankings. Their mother, Regina, reached a ranking of 26 in the world in women’s tennis. And Sebi, after taking Petr for a few sets on Friday, will caddie for his dad this week.
“We've been looking forward to this event for a really long time,” Nelly said. “I've been telling my dad, it's my offseason. You're the star of the show. It's your time to shine. He's going to be the one dropping bombs.
“But I think we're just really happy to be here together, and hopefully we make some good memories.”
Petr agreed with that assessment. “Playing with Nelly, it's creating some new memories,” he said. “And it's also a great honor, I believe, for the women's golf to be in the same event with other players, other greats, from Mr. Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino and other guys.
“I told Nelly, I'm the tennis player. I feel like I don't belong over here. I'll try my best, and hopefully she's not going to be disappointed.”
Not likely. Petr remains a natural athlete. He took up golf when he noticed Ivan Lendl showing up at ATP events with his golf clubs. Then, in 1996, Petr watched Tiger Woods win the U.S. Amateur over Steve Scott, still one of the greatest finishes in the history of the event. “I said gee, that kid is quite good,” Petr said. “That’s when I started paying attention to the golf. And when I stopped (playing tennis), Jess picked up golf and so we've been around the golf, obviously with both girls. But I'm always outside of the ropes. This one will be something special, and I'm looking forward (to it).”
He hasn’t always been a casual spectator. When Nelly was younger, Petr would take her out and play for $5. There was always something on the line. And for years, father seemed to get the best of his little girl.
“When was the last match we played together? It was like, what, two years ago,” Nelly said. “I won only like 1-up, and I don't give him any shots. Either he just gets in my head or he just turns it on when he putts. But I would say his feel is really good. Because he played tennis, his feel is really good.”
“I passed a good test today,” Petr quickly interjected. “Vijay Singh on the 10th tee, he came and, you know, checked me (out). And on 18, Dan Hicks, Roger Maltbie, Peter Jacobsen, (watched) so, I passed the test. And I hit fairways, quite a long drive.”
But Petr knows that nobody will watch the PNC this week to see him. Those who aren’t tuning in for Charlie and Tiger Woods will stick around to see if Nelly’s game is still on the rise.
“Both girls, they have a big love of the game and they're showing quite nicely on the golf course,” Petr said. “That's something for me, as a parent. You want to see your kid, whatever she does, she brings that passion. And as we said many times, my wife and I, we are very proud of them, no matter what they do.”