Nelly Korda on the Met Gala and prepping for a run at LPGA history at Cognizant Founders Cup 2024

Jaden Smith, the 25-year-old son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, was the first person to say hello to Nelly Korda at the Met Gala on Monday evening. As she stood in line waiting to walk the green carpet – the dress code was “The Garden of Time” – Korda was mostly silent as she took in the scene. Wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress and her first spray tan, Korda was especially starstruck by Grammy-winning artist Shakira, who was also making her Met Gala debut.

“It was just a dream come true,” said Korda.

Life lately for the most dominant player in golf has been nothing but dreamy. Korda enters this week Cognizant Founders Cup in Clifton, New Jersey, with a chance to become the first player in LPGA history to win six consecutive starts.

After capturing her fifth straight title at the Chevron Championship, she pulled out of the L.A. stop at Wilshire Country Club so that she could take two weeks to rest.

“First night, Sunday, I really didn’t sleep much at all,” said Korda. “The adrenaline, you actually feel really sick. You can’t sleep. The adrenaline wears off and the body starts to ache a little bit.”

After that, she was sleeping nine to 10 hours a night, which is standard when she’s at home in Florida. The mental break was just as important for a player who is leading just about every area of the tour statistically.

During the second week off, Korda hosted her first all-girls AJGA event, “The Nelly,” at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton. She brought out one of the rescue dogs from Satchels Last Resort for the Junior Am. Marvel was up for adoption, and she hopes he found a home.

“You’re your most genuine self when you see a puppy,” said Korda. “That really gave me a lot of positive energy.”

Although Korda, 25, is a 13-time winner on the LPGA and Oylmpic gold medalist, she doesn’t feel that far removed from the AJGA. When she saw one junior warming up with a TrackMan on the range, however, she realized how much things had changed.

Korda flew up to New Jersey on Saturday and played Upper Montclair Country Club on Sunday and then on Monday again before the gala. She doesn’t have the best record in New Jersey, having missed the cut at this event last year as well as the KPMG Women’s PGA at Baltusrol.

“This golf course is tough,” said Korda. “It’s very, very narrow off the tee. The rough is very penalizing. And it’s wet this year, so it’s even worse.”

One player who is exceedingly comfortable this week is former No. 1 Jin Young Ko, who won last year’s Founders Cup in a playoff over 2022 champ Minjee Lee. Ko is a three-time winner of the Founders, though her other two victories were at different venues.

Ko suffered a shoulder injury earlier this year that took her away from the tour for a month and a half and recently tied for fourth at the JM Eagle LA Championship.

“I think my game is going well,” said Ko, who is back to playing (and sleeping) pain-free. “Like, I think I found good direction to (be) going.”

Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-05) are the only other players in LPGA history to win five consecutive starts.

Sorenstam said all she could see during a streak like that were fairways, greens and one-putts.

“If I hit a bad shot, it didn’t affect me,” she said. “It just kind of repelled.”

In her mind, Sorenstam knew plenty more good shots were coming.

Korda, the first American player to win five times in an LPGA season since Juli Inkster in 1999, said she hasn’t thought much at all about what it would mean to win six in a row. She’s kept too busy.

Earlier this week U.S. captain Stacy Lewis organized a Solheim Cup dinner and World Golf Hall of Fame members Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon were in attendance. Daniel and Bradley are being honored this week as LPGA pioneers.

“They are just so positive and so fun to talk to,” said Korda. “I just hope that when I’m in their position, girls my age will think that about me, too.”

Pat Bradley was a fixture in the winner’s circle on the LPGA Tour in the 1980s. She won 31 Tour events, including six major titles.

Bradley and Daniel are no strangers to monster seasons. Daniel won seven times in 1990, including a major, while Bradley won three of her six majors in 1986.

Bradley actually won the 1983 LPGA Chrysler-Plymouth Classic at Upper Montclair, which sits just 12 miles west of Manhatten.

“I mean, last night I said to Beth and Meg, how did I find this place? We didn’t have GPS; we didn’t have a phone,” said Bradley. “I must have stopped at 12 gas stations and said, ‘Joe, where is Upper Montclair Country Club?’ Because it was tucked back here so nicely.”

Perhaps one day Korda will be back at Upper Montclair, regaling players with stories about the time she “felt like a princess” at the Met Gala a few short days before she made LPGA history.

The stage is hers. Back in her Nike apparel, hair bun and visor, she hopes her work inside the ropes is enough to move the tour forward.

“At the end of the day, I think if you perform well in your sport, that’s what grabs people’s attention,” said Korda. “I’m not the type of person that tries to push anything or does anything I’m not really comfortable with … I hope that I just do it naturally.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek