Jessica Korda says golf talk doesn't happen when the sisters are off the course

By Jason Duaine Hahn
February 11, 2021 03:32 PM
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Jessica Korda
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
| Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It's family first for golfer Jessica Korda.

In January, the 27-year-old LPGA player won the 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in dramatic fashion, sinking a 25-footer to beat out a competitive grouping that included golfer Danielle Kang and Nelly Korda, her younger sister.

The victory marked Korda's sixth overall LPGA title, and her second to happen stateside. Her last win on the tour came at the Honda LPGA Thailand in 2018.

"I feel great. I haven't won in a while. I've had a lot of close calls, but it's really hard to win that on the LPGA tour these days," Korda, who is signed with Adidas, tells PEOPLE. "The level of golf is so high now. I think it's harder to win now than it was 10 years ago, for sure. The scores are getting lower and the girls are just getting so much better. So it's a great time to be out on tour and be able to calve off another win."

Korda says the win at Diamond Resorts was made even more special because it happened in front of her parents, retired professional tennis players Regina Rajchrtová and Petr Korda, the 1998 Grand Slam champion.

"This is only my second win in the U.S., my other one was in Alabama and then the Bahamas and then Asia before that," Korda recalls. "Because I haven't really won much in the U.S., I haven't been able to have my parents around. They've watched me win in junior golf, but never as a professional. So to have them there playing the final round with my sister was really cool."

Jessica Korda
Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Jessica Korda; Nelly Korda
Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda
| Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

"They're always there to pick me up," Korda says of her parents. "They're the ones that believe in me the most, even when I don't believe in myself and to have them there with me was really special because we all could enjoy it as a family, and not my mom and dad watching it through a TV screen."

As Petr and Regina watched Korda win the tournament, they were also there to see their youngest daughter, Nelly. The 22-year-old — who has three LPGA victories since joining the tour in 2017 — came in third (-22) behind her sister (-24) and Kang at Diamond Resorts. While Korda says many people try to paint the sisters as heated rivals, she says that's far from the case.

"Everyone always tries to pit us against each other, and we always disappoint everyone when we say that we are each other's biggest supporters," she says of Nelly. "If the other one is struggling with something, the other one's always there to help. We basically just help each other out as much as we can."

"At the end of the day, obviously we want to beat each other. But in the grand scheme of things, we also want to beat the 140 or whatever girls in the field," Korda adds. "In golf, it's not such a head to head. It's not like tennis where you're playing literally against that one person. But that's how we feel about it. My sister is my best friend and when we're away from the golf course, we just talk normally. We talk about shopping. We talk about whatever we follow on Instagram and we talk about life and very little about golf."

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GolfDigest recently called the Korda sisters "golf's most athletic family" in a caption on the front of their November 2020 issue. But the sisters aren't the only ones to have gotten some of their parents' athletic talents — Sebastian Korda, Petr and Regina's 20-year-old son, is an accomplished tennis player who won the junior title at the 2018 Australian Open.

When asked if there was pressure as a child to live up to the athletic expectations that come from her last name, Korda said her parents let the three siblings choose their own adventures in life.

"There was never a real pressure to succeed, or there was never really pressure to be great," she says. "Our parents just wanted us to enjoy what we did and be motivated to do something and love it. And whatever that was, whether it was going to college and pursuing a career in something other than sports, that's completely up to us."

"All they want for us is to be happy and motivated and live our best lives," Korda adds. "So the only thing that was tough was at the beginning stepping out of the shadow of our last name."

Korda says she has always encouraged her younger siblings to be their "own person," and not to pay attention to what others may think. So far, the results have been everything they've dreamed.

"Honestly, I love our life," Korda says. "I love what we've made and continue to make of our lives and this wouldn't be possible without our parents. So it's not our last name that hinders anything. It's just being recognized for you as an individual. And I think all three of us are doing a great job of being our own people. "

"And what kind of a life is that? It's insane. It's so cool," she adds. "So I absolutely love exactly where we are."