Nelly Korda relying on her team more than ever as she hopes to keep dominant run going at U.S. Women’s Open 2024

LANCASTER, Pa. – Nelly Korda’s first U.S. Women’s Open came in 2013 at Sebonack Golf Club, where Inbee Park won her third consecutive major of the season. While Nelly had been to plenty of U.S. Women’s Opens outside the ropes as older sister Jessica’s biggest fan, this was her first time on the inside. She remembers playing practice rounds with past champions Michelle Wie West and Na Yeon Choi and hitting balls next to Lydia Ko. On Sunday, she drained a 10-footer for eagle on a hole that was designated for charity and was interviewed after the round.

“My quote was, ‘You’ve got to risk it for the biscuit,’ ” she said, laughing.

Now, a little more than a decade later, Korda is a six-time winner on the LPGA this season alone and the undisputed favorite at Lancaster Country Club. In fact, she’s having the most dominant season on tour that any American has enjoyed since Beth Daniel won seven times in 1990. That’s eight years before 25-year-old Korda was even born.

The atmosphere at Lancaster Country Club is primed to be electric this week. The crowds here in 2015 were some of the best the championship has seen this century, and a key reason the USGA came back to the 1919 William Flynn design, by all accounts a hidden gem. The members at Lancaster are so dedicated to the championship they’ve been hitting shots off mats since October.

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Korda called it a “beast” of a course and said what USGA officials love to hear: that it tests every aspect of a player’s game.

That’s great for Korda because she currently has no weaknesses. The best ball-striker on tour, she also happens to lead the tour in putts made from 10 to 15 feet. She won her last event, the Mizuho Americas Open, with what she called, at times, her “C” and “D” game.

Korda won her second major earlier this season at the Chevron Championship, becoming only the third player in LPGA history to win five consecutive starts, joining Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam. When asked about the key to sustaining such success, she pointed to the presence of coaches Jamie Mulligan and his assistant Brett Lederer.

2024 Chevron Championship
2024 Chevron Championship

Nelly Korda celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2024 Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas. (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The only week one of them haven’t been out with Korda was the Cognizant Founders Cup, which happens to be the only time she hasn’t won in her last seven starts.

Korda said she told her team last year that she really, really needed them to come out to more events. Mulligan also works with Patrick Cantlay on the PGA Tour. Lederer was on the range Monday, going back and forth between Korda and Gabi Ruffels. It’s Monday through Wednesday, she said, that mean the most for Korda and her team, as they check to make sure her swing – perhaps the most enviable in all of golf – is on plane and in the right spots.

“I rarely had a coach out here with me last year and the years before,” said Korda, “and I love the fact that I have one out here now, because before, if I wasn’t hitting it well – it’s different to have someone out here versus FaceTiming them and trying to figure it out on your own.

“Actually, having that face-to-face conversation and them putting you in that position and kind of feeling it, because feel versus real is very, very different.”

Few people have seen more of Korda’s golf shots this season than Golf Channel’s Karen Stupples, an on-course reporter and major winner who notes that most of Korda’s fine shots are controlled shots. Korda’s caddie, Jason McDede, will often pinch his fingers together to indicate to Stupples that Korda is hitting a small 8-iron, for example. She sees small shots more often than not.

“Every once in a while you’ll see her go after a shot and it can still take your breath away,” Stupples said.

Watching Korda attack a par 5 with a 3-wood, for example, is one of her favorite things. The par 5s are where Korda takes particular advantage, though there are only two at Lancaster this week.

“The shot itself is a penetrating ball-flight, but it has enough height to it that it will have some control when it gets there,” said Stupples. “And then when you get the sound … oof. The sound of impact and the flight of it is just magnificent.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek