Nelly Korda, 20, becamesthe fourth member of her family to win an Australian Open, shooting 67 on Sunday for a two-shot victory.
The entire Korda family was spread out across the globe on Sunday. Brother Sebastian was in Turkey, father Petr on the west coast of the United States. Older sister Jessica was back home in Florida, nursing an injury that’s kept her off the LPGA Tour for several weeks. While they might not have been physically together, their hearts and minds were all in one place, following sister Nelly at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Nelly Korda went on to win the tournament, shooting a final round 67 on Sunday to post 17-under and a two-shot victory, the second of her LPGA career. Soon after finishing off the win she heard from a jubilant Jessica, who stayed up into the early hours of Sunday morning to watch her. “Who else is staying up with me?” she tweeted at 10:30 p.m. EST on Saturday.
“It was pretty much screaming congratulations,” Nelly described the talk with her sister. “She was really happy for me. It was really special. I mean, this win is really special for my family.”
What makes this win so significant for the Korda family? Put the name Australian Open on a tournament, and a Korda is bound to win it. Petr, a former No. 2 ranked tennis player, won the Australian Open grand slam in 1998. Sebastian won the Australian Open boy’s title last year. And Jessica won this same tournament in 2012.
“I guess there’s maybe something in the air here,” Nelly said. “I just got off the phone with my dad, and he’s like, ‘Well, congratulations you’re part of the Korda slam now.”
For 20-year-old Nelly in particular, the win means she’s finally establishing her own identity as a professional golfer. Since coming onto the LPGA Tour she’s been in the shadow of Jessica, five years older than her sister and herself a five-time winner on tour. Nelly took steps towards proving she’s a champion too back in October when she won her first title at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
On Sunday she was in prime position to add her second title, coming into the final round with a three-shot lead. The lead grew to five after she holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 11th, and she went on to hold off hard-charging Jin Young Ko, who birdied four of her last six holes to finish in second place.
Despite the outward competition between the sisters, however, Nelly admits that Jessica always allowed her to make her own way on tour and never feel like she had to follow in her footsteps.
“What’s really great about Jess is that I was never really in her shadow. I was, but she never really made me feel like I was in her shadow,” she said. “She always made me be really independent, do whatever I wanted, and kind of go my own way.”
“When you’re a rookie out here you kind of need…a mentor out here. She just told me to go my own way. You just need to do your own thing. I never really felt too much pressure. There was pressure, but I think I finally carved my own way.”
When Petr won his grand slam title in 1998, he became known for his scissor kick celebration. His children have mimicked his trademark move after their wins. On Sunday it was Nelly doing the scissor kick, but also taking a step out of the shadow of her famous family and making her own name.