SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – Nelly Korda took several large gulps from her bottle of water, drew a deep breath, and then placed both her hands atop the podium as if to ask, “OK, what have you got for me?”
Tuesday, Korda answered questions from the media for the first time since undergoing surgery to have a blood clot removed from her right arm. She’s set to make her competitive return at the U.S. Women’s Open, her first LPGA Tour start since February.
“I'm honestly just grateful to be out here. I'm going to take it one step at a time. I'm not expecting too much,” Korda said.
The 23-year-old seemed nervous at first as she began detailing what happened when she was diagnosed with the blood clot in March. She said she was simply “feeling funny” and that her arm didn’t feel right. After speaking with her family doctor, she went to an emergency room. In April, she underwent surgery near her home in Sarasota, Florida, and then traveled to Carlsbad, California, for rehabilitation.
“I've been kind of struggling with my shoulder a little here and there for actually the past year, so I was saying, kill two birds with one stone,” Korda said about her rehab. “I kind of just made sure that I was ready and 100% going into my comeback, and I didn't really want to rush it or anything.”
Korda was wearing a compression sleeve on her right arm, which she says she will continue to do as long as she feels it's necessary.
The U.S. Women’s Open wasn’t a particular target for Korda’s return, but once she felt up to speed and got the OK from her doctor to compete, the major championship became her point of return. This major is also just two weeks prior to Korda’s title defense at the Meijer LPGA Classic, which is followed by her title defense at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But Korda says those aren’t on her radar just yet.
“To tee up and to hit my first shot on Thursday. That is as far as I'm looking right now,” she said.
The specific dates and details surrounding Korda’s ordeal over the last few months weren’t something she wanted to dive into, and the cause of the clot was something she wanted to keep private. What she did share made her emotional as she opened about her time away from the tour.
“I think when it's kind of taken away from you, you kind of sit back and you realize how amazing of a sport it is and then how you can travel the world and how you can just do what you love,” Korda said. “I definitely missed it.”