BETHESDA, MARYLAND | For those of a certain age, the husky sweet tones of Joni Mitchell melted our hearts for years. One of Joni’s classic lyrics came to mind this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as Nelly Korda described her four months away from golf as she recovered from a dangerous blood clot.
“Don’t it always seem to go / that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
“I think life is about perspective,” Korda said before teeing off in the season’s third major which she is the defending champion. “When you look at it in a different way, you enjoy and you have a lot more respect for the game, and you're a lot humbler about it, too. You just enjoy yourself a lot more. I think that goes a long way in golf.”
It’s true in golf, but it’s also true in every other profession and personal relationship. Whatever season of life you happen to be experiencing, it’s easy to believe that things will remain the way they are forever, or that the upward trends you have seen to this point will continue into perpetuity. In business investing, when you project today’s profits into foreverland, it’s called “extrapolation madness.” In life, when you assume that today’s good fortunes will never end, it’s called youthful naivete.
Life is going to punch you in the mouth. It’s not a matter of if; it’s when and how bad is it going to be. Character is how you respond.
“I've just put in a lot of work, honestly,” Korda said of her time back in the game, a time that no one was sure would ever come when the news broke of her blood clot and subsequent surgery. “I've put in a lot of work into my body and also my golf game since I've been back. I've just been about consistency.
“I think it's also about the attitude that you have on the golf course. I feel like the more you enjoy it out there, the better you play, the less you get kind of ticked off, the less things go wrong, I guess, in a sense.
“Since I've been back, I've made sure that I've had a good attitude and enjoyed every second of it, and I think that's contributed to my good play.”
The good play has been more than surprising. It’s one thing to come back after a four-month layoff and have one or two good rounds. But then rust grinds the gears and your brain reminds you how difficult competitive golf can be. But Korda started like she’d never been away, finishing T8 in the U.S. Women’s Open and losing in a playoff to Jennifer Kupcho at the Meijer LPGA Classic supporting Simply Give.
“I made sure that I was 100% before coming back and even just hitting golf balls,” Korda said. “My health came first.
“Once I was healthy and I did my rehab - even just for my shoulder, because I was struggling with that a little last year - I made sure that I could kill two birds with one stone. I've said that a couple of times, but I'll continue to. I made sure that also I had my coach, Jamie Mulligan, there when I was hitting golf balls for the first time. I think that was really important for me because that was the longest I've ever gone without hitting a golf ball.
“I have a physio with me, and I do a lot of pre-round stuff and post-round, so I'm still working hard. I'm still making sure that I'm doing everything. I am putting a lot more time into my body. In a sense being what my parents say is a little ‘more professional.’
“I typically get to the golf course two hours before my tee time, and after (the round) it just depends on my body. Obviously, if I'm not hitting it well, I'll have a little warm-down, but I'll always have an hour session with my physio as well after.”
Then Korda provided some deeper insight into her life, a brief glimpse into what things were like before, during, and after her medical scare.
“Ever since I started (playing) it's just been kind of full throttle and I have been practicing,” she said. “I have not taken more than two or three days off since then. I'm just happy to be out here playing competitive golf.”
Then Korda looked out at the putting green at Congressional Country Club but she was seeing something far away.
“I gave myself a chance last week,” she said. “If you told me that when I was laying in the ER, I would have definitely been very happy.”