LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Everything happens in its own time. For Jessica Korda, that’s been a tough lesson to accept in her 11 years on the LPGA Tour.
Korda on Sunday rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole to defeat Danielle Kang and win the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.
“Come on!” she yelled as her ball cozied into the cup for her first victory in nearly three years.
Like the long and winding putt that earned Korda a win on Sunday, so has been her journey on the LPGA.
Saturday, the 28-year-old made history when she recorded just the fifth round of 60 in the tour’s 71-year history. She carded seven birdies and an eagle on the back nine. Why hadn’t she played this kind of golf before? Why wasn’t there more of this from Korda throughout her career?
The real question was, how much has the pain she’s suffered throughout her career hampered her success?
It’s easy to forget about the multiple injuries she’s endured in her decade on tour. She doesn’t like to talk about them and she doesn’t want to use them as an excuse. But she’s played, and won, through more pain than most could imagine.
During the summer of 2017, Korda qualified for the Solheim Cup for the first time in four years. She no sooner made the team when she withdrew because of a wrist injury. That December, Korda underwent major jaw surgery to correct a painful overbite that gave her agonizing headaches. Still numb and with 27 screws in her face, Korda won in her first event post-surgery at the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand. The following year, she suffered a forearm injury and wasn’t able to defend her title. Last year, she withdrew from the AIG Women’s Open citing medical reasons.
It was during those tough times that Korda relied most on her family. It seems fitting that as Jessica returned to the winner’s circle on Sunday she did so while playing alongside her younger sister, Nelly, and with her parents, Regina and Petr, looking on.
“My family is everything. They're my biggest support system. They believe in me more than I believe in myself,” Jessica Korda said as she fought back tears. “They're always there to pick me up when I'm down. Let me tell you, I've been down.”
Korda was recognized by her peers with the 2018 Heather Farr Perseverance award for her comeback after jaw surgery. That award encapsulates the fighting spirit that Korda has shown in not only her physical recovery but in her journey to learning – no matter how difficult the wait seems, everything comes in its time.
“It’s incredible,” Korda said Sunday night as she held her sixth career LPGA trophy. “God has his timing and I needed to go through some stuff to really appreciate what I had.”
Everything happens in its own time. And Sunday was Jessica Korda’s.