Korda proud of sister's quick rookie-season start

By Randall MellApril 1, 2017, 1:24 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Jessica Korda checked up on her little sister toward the end of Friday’s suspended second round at the ANA Inspiration.

Standing at the 16th tee during a backup in play, Jessica turned to see Nelly stiff a wedge tight at the adjacent 12th green. Nelly knew her big sister was watching and looked at her as if to say, “How about that, sis?”

Jessica loved it, and they waved to each other.

“I’m so proud,” Jessica said.

It was a great day for the Kordas, for all five of them squeezed into the home of the Berenzweigs, family friends with a place at Mission Hills Country Club.

Nelly, the 18-year-old rookie, posted a 3-under-par 69 to move to 6 under overall, just one shot behind Suzann Pettersen in the suspended second round at the Dinah Shore Course.

Jessica, 24, made her own move, rebounding from a sluggish start to shoot 67 and move just four off the lead.

But they weren’t the only Kordas coming up big on Friday.

Sebastian, the 16-year-old brother, won his match to advance to the semifinals of the Easter Bowl USTA Junior National Spring Championship at nearby Indian Wells.

Parents Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova are in the desert with their gifted children. They know all about performing on big stages as tennis stars. Petr won the 1998 Australian Open; Regina was among the top 25 in the world in her prime.

ANA Inspiration: Articles, photos and videos

Jessica, a four-time LPGA winner, was asked what it’s like to see her sister’s name above hers on a leaderboard.

“I’m like, man, I wish I was as good as her,” Jessica cracked. “It's so great. I know all the hard work that she has put in, too, and I'm so proud to see that it's paying off and paying off really quickly. She's had a stellar, stellar rookie season so far and hopefully it continues.”

Nelly, who earned her LPGA status on the Symetra Tour last year, keeps building on a strong rookie start. She tied for fifth at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic in her rookie debut.

“I'm just over the moon, truthfully,” Nelly said. “Playing alongside my sister, and playing alongside the girls I used to look up to. I'm just really happy to be out here.”

There’s more than a major championship hanging in the balance for the Korda sisters this weekend. There’s purse money to be won, as in money for a Gucci, Prada or whatever kind of handbag is desired by the Korda sister who finishes highest on the year-end money list.

They have a season-long bet.

“I’m a little worried,” Jessica said.

Jessica is 28th on this week’s money list, Nelly 32nd.

Jessica is the dutiful big sister, always trying to look out for Nelly. In fact, Jessica joked that it’s hard work sometimes.

“It's like baby-sitting,” Jessica said. “My sister forgets her phone. She forgets her bag.”

Jessica said after making a big deal to remind Nelly not to leave a cup of fruit in the car this week, Nelly left it in the car.

“Can't complain, though,” Jessica said. “Apart from the baby-sitting.”

The Korda sisters can’t help but like tennis, but it’s a spectator sport for them. They don’t like to play tennis, not with their father and brother.

“They just like to make us run, so it's really not that fun,” Jessica said. “You have, basically, two professionals on one side and two wooden girls. It's not good.”

The Korda sisters did battle each other over a tennis match on Thursday. They watched Nick Kyrgios vs. Alexander Zverev on TV in a Miami Open match. Nelly was rooting for Kyrgios because “he has the same initials as me.” Jessica was rooting for Zverev.

“We were screaming at each other, `Yes! No!’” Nelly said.

They’ve been relaxing playing with a new Pomeranian puppy they bought last week, a gift they’re going to deliver to their grandparents.

There’s a long way to go, but a perfect ending this week would be for all the Kordas to jump into Poppie’s Pond together.


Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.