Nelly Korda, the world number two, says she won’t be looking past the first tee at the US Women’s Open on Thursday, as she makes a comeback for the first time in four months after a blood clot scare.
The defending Olympic champion, who is 23 years old, had to delay her season in February after a clot was found in her left arm.
Korda had a wonderful year in 2021, rising to world number one and winning four LPGA titles, including her first major, as well as an Olympic gold medal.
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Regardless of the fact that the American claims to be completely fit following post-surgery rehab, she has little expectations for this week’s major at Pine Needles Golf Club in North Carolina.
“To tee up and hit my first tee shot on Thursday – that is as far as I’m looking right now,” Korda replied on Tuesday when asked what her goals for the week were.
“I’ve been out of competition since early February. I’m honestly just grateful to be out here playing. I’m going to take it one step at a time. I’m not expecting too much. The girls are already in the midst of their seasons and have a bunch of rounds under their belts.”
Korda has a packed schedule ahead of her after her long absence, with the Women’s Open this week, the Meijer LPGA Classic, and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she is the defending champion.
“I have a few big events coming up,” Korda said. “I’m trying not to think about it too much. I’m just grateful to be back out here.”
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‘I’ve missed it so much’
Korda said she spotted the blood clot in her arm after she started to “feel funny” in February.
“I just felt funny so I called my family doctor and he advised me to go to the ER (emergency room),” she said.
“I went to the ER, found out I had a blood clot and went home and searched for a specialist, then obviously had my procedure.”
Her coach accompanied her to California for a lengthy recuperation.
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“A lot of shoulder and back exercises,” Korda said. “I just made sure I was ready and 100 percent going into my comeback.
“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to have any issues,” added Korda, who will play with a compression sleeve on her left arm this week.
The final Chevron Championship held at Rancho Mirage before the tournament moves to Texas in 2023 was a stressful experience for Korda, who said that watching the LPGA Tour from afar was a frustrating experience.
“That one hurt a lot because it was the last time there,” Korda said.
“Yeah, I’ve missed it so much. As I got closer to this week I started hitting it a little harder and longer.
“The juices started flowing again. I’ve missed everyone, I’m so happy and grateful to be back out here again.”
Yuka Saso, who won the US Women’s Open last year, is adapting to her new role as defending champion this week.
“It’s like when you’re sick and your nose is stuffy you are so grateful to be able to breathe properly again,” she said.
“I feel it’s kind of the same way. When it’s taken away from you, you kind of sit back and realize what an amazing sport golf is. I missed it.”
On Tuesday, the Philippine-born Japanese professional acknowledged she wasn’t sure if she felt pressure as champion.
“I just want to enjoy and have fun you know,” Saso said. “I don’t know if I’m nervous or not.”
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