Korda swoons over the scenery at Pebble Beach

Mark McGowan

Nelly Korda (Darren Carroll/USGA)

Former world number one, Olympic Gold medalist and 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Nelly Korda’s first impressions of Pebble Beach ahead of the 2023 Women’s U.S. Open are everything that you might expect given the history and scenery at the storied venue.

“Amazing,” was her first word when asked her thoughts after her Monday practice round. “The views on every hole, I feel like you get to a hole and you’re like, this is my favorite view, and then you get to another hole and, no, this is actually my favorite view. So very scenic, amazing golf course, so much history, and so grateful to be out here.”

It’s a little hard to fathom that most of the elite players in the women’s game are seeing Pebble Beach for the first time this week, especially given the fact that their PGA Tour counterparts visit every year and, as a public course, the vast majority of the 60,000 annual rounds here are played by the general public.


A self-confessed Tiger Woods fan, Korda was a month shy of her second birthday when Woods obliterated the field on his way to capturing his maiden U.S. Open here in 2000, but was already an accomplished player when he returned in 2010 and hit one of the shots of his career on the iconic 18th in the third round, aiming out towards the ocean and cutting a fairway wood under and around the cypress tree, onto the green for an eagle putt.

“I mean, 18 is incredible,” she said. “Kind of seeing it for the first time, Tiger hit that shot around the tree. And then obviously No. 7, too, the par-3. Actually I almost made a hole-in-one there. I haven’t made a hole-in-one since I was I think 11, but I was over it and I was like, “hole-in-one, hole-in-one.” It would be one for one. It landed probably an inch away from the cup.”

Pebble Beach famously has some of the smallest green complexes of any Championship course in the United States and Korda feels that distance control and accuracy with your iron play, along with concentration and patience will be the keys to good scoring this week.

“Well, we played Baltusrol [in the recent KPMG Women’s PGA Championship] and those were some of the biggest greens,” she said, “and now we go to Pebble and these are some of the smallest greens. You have to really dial in. You have to really concentrate out here, especially with the bouncy poa. You don’t know what kind of first bounce you’re going to get, so just making sure that you’re taking your time over every shot, being very diligent with your routine and just with the process with your caddie, too, making sure that you talk over every part of every hole.

“I think obviously the weather, just being here on the coast, adjustment of yardages. It doesn’t fly as far typically. Then I would say just the slope. I had so many shots where the ball was below my feet, above my feet, and then on top of that, you’re hitting into small greens, so you have to adjust with the slope and hit the green at the end of the day, and poa annua greens, if you’re — at the end of the day those greens do get bumpy. So making sure you stay patient is going to be very crucial this week.”

Korda was one of several high-profile ladies who missed the cut at Baltusrol, and having overcome a blood clot in the early stages of 2022, suffered more injury woes in 2023 as a niggling back issue caused her to take a six-week break leading into the PGA.

“Yeah, obviously pretty disappointed,” she said of the missed cut at Baltusrol. “Flew out on Friday right after the round. I think it’s just golf. You constantly go through it just like the roller coasters of it. I think it just makes you appreciate the highs more, I would say. But making sure that I was mentally ready to come into this week. I just put my head down and grinded. I love that about golf. I think no one knows everything and no one is an expert, and I think that this is the beauty of the game is.”

Women’s golf has taken great strides in recent years with players like Korda at the forefront, and a maiden U.S. Open being held at Pebble Beach is further evidence of that; something that is not lost on the 24-year-old.

“It’s amazing to see we’re making these massive strides forward, not only with the increase in purses but the venues we get to play, the rich history that we just get to be a part of. I think that’s our little piece of history, as well.”


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