No.2 Nelly Korda returns for Women’s PGA after back injury

World number two Nelly Korda returns from a lower back injury to compete in this week’s Women’s PGA Championship, trying to capture her second major title after missing four events.

The 24-year-old American daughter of retired tennis star Petr Korda has had more than a month off since missing the cut in last month’s LPGA Founders Cup.

Before that, Korda had top-six finishes in six of seven LPGA events this year and had moved to world number one before being overtaken in May by South Korea’s Ko Jin-young.

“It was nice to be at home,” Korda said Tuesday. “Started practicing a week and a half ago when I was all cleared to go two weeks ago. Just been grinding away.”

Korda has played 27 practice holes at Baltusrol and plans nine more on Wednesday before she tees off on Thursday alongside top-ranked Ko and third-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

“I’m very excited,” Korda said. “It’s going to be a pretty interesting test this week. It’s an amazing golf course.

“Your game has to be good and on all cylinders.”

Korda, the reigning Olympic champion, suffered a back injury at the 2020 Women’s PGA and missed much of that season but won her first major title at the 2021 Women’s PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Korda won three other LPGA titles and Olympic gold in Tokyo in 2021 but in March 2022 announced she was taking a break due to a blood clot in her left arm and missed three months. She later won her second Pelican Women’s Championship, her most recent of eight LPGA victories.

“I feel like every single time I’ve taken a break, it has been for something else,” Korda said. “Last year was the blood clot at the beginning of the year and this time it was just my lower back that I just wanted to make sure it didn’t turn into something worse.

“It’s nice to take a step back, get a break in a sense. It also makes you appreciate playing out here, traveling and getting to do what you love when it’s taken away from you and you have to take a forced break.”

Korda said she is pain-free but didn’t want to take chances with the same area where she was hurt in 2020.

“It didn’t feel right,” she said. “I just talked with my doctor and he recommended I just take a couple weeks off to just rest it before something else flares up from it.

“There’s a lot of torque in the golf swing so I fell like I’m not the only golfer that kind of struggles with the low back.

“Also when you’re traveling four weeks in a row, different beds, flying out right after your round. sometimes you just tweak it and you just need to take rest.”

The break has increased her appetite for golf and winning.

“It just makes me appreciate it more,” she said. “A little bit more hungry.”

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© Agence France-Presse

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