Nelly Korda bought a gaming laptop to keep her mind busy during a heavy stretch on the LPGA. Right now she’s into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. She might download a few of the card games she liked as a kid, too.
“Complete nerd coming out of me right now,” she said, with a laugh.
Navigating No. 1 is new to the 22-year-old, who met with the media in France ahead of the Amundi Evian Championship. Over the course of the next seven weeks, two majors, the Olympic Games and a Solheim Cup will be contested and Korda, a three-time winner on the LPGA this season, will headline them all.
Korda said she lets her dad and her agent handle the requests that have poured in since she became No. 1 last month and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics along with big sister Jessica.
“I’m like, pinch me,” she said, “is this even real?”
The Evian returns for the first time since 2019, when Ji Young Ko hoisted the trophy and ascended to No. 1. Ko last teed it up on the LPGA on July 1 when she won the Volunteers of America Classic. She then flew back to South Korea with her parents and caught up with her swing coach and her dog, whose name translates to “awesome.”
Evian practically paints the town with the winner’s face each year, and Ko was struck by how young she looked in the pictures.
“Feels like face was like five years ago,” she said. “The picture really looks young. What happened after two years with my face? I can see my pictures everywhere, so my feeling is like this week is my hometown.”
While the top two players in the world are eager to tee it up this week, six of the top-20 players chose not to make the trip, including No. 6 Danielle Kang, No. 8 Yuka Saso, No. 9 Nasa Hataoka and No. 11 Lexi Thompson.
“Each to their own when it comes to a schedule,” said Nelly. “I know a couple of top girls are missing this week just because it was a lot of travel, a lot of big events coming up. At the end of the day I think they’re just thinking about how their bodies are going to be and not tiring themselves out. But I would never miss a major.”
Evian tournament director Jacques Bungert didn’t seem overly concerned about the number of top names who chose to skip the season’s fourth major.
“We have a fantastic field honestly,” said Bungert, “and we feel lucky to have that type of a field due to the conditions, the restrictions for traveling, the situation of the Delta at the moment in the UK, for instance, and the situation with the Olympic Games obviously.”
The Amundi Evian Championship 2021 – Official Teaser
You’ve been waiting for it? Here it is!
Be there on June 10th for the opening of the tournament ticketing! pic.twitter.com/qXPmY2nVjO
— The Amundi Evian Championship (@EvianChamp) May 27, 2021
Korda, whose best finish at the Evian is a T-25 in 2019, noted that the rough is thick and the course is playing softer due to the amount of rain that fell last week.
When asked what part of the course she finds toughest, Korda said mentally handling the unpredictable bounces.
“You know, you can hit good shots and you get a really bad bounce and you’re just in an impossible position,” said Korda. “You can hit a bad shot and it trickles up there and you sink it for birdie. So it’s more of just like a mental aspect, and also just knowing where to miss.”
Korda has now been ranked No. 1 for four weeks, something she takes great pride in and describes as a “cool feeling.” The main goal for the rest of the year, she said, is to remain healthy. Both Korda sisters have dealt with an array of health issues during the course of their careers.
As for the gaming laptop, it offers a great escape, a way to keep from being mentally drained during big weeks, which are coming fast and furious these days.
“Jess kind of said it last week in an interview we did, she was like, ‘Yeah, everyone is now coming after her,’ ” said Nelly. “So in a sense, I’m like, that’s right. But it’s a new week, and every week I go into a tournament with a new mindset. It doesn’t matter the ranking.”