Jessica Korda had no idea how she hit some of her winning shots in the Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. She beat Stacy Lewis by one for her second LPGA victory, birdieing three of the last four holes including 17 and 18.
By no idea on how she did it, she meant that she wasn’t really thinking about too many things on Sunday:
I honestly have no idea. I was rolling the ball same as I was yesterday, and I was actually making putts today, which is really nice. On 16 I had a 34‑yard [102 feet] putt from literally one side of the green to the other, Paula [Creamer] putted first to like two feet. I just looked at her like, can you come putt mine now, please? And I think that was really key to make par there.
She was also able to make swings without being swing-bound or results oriented:
And then I hit a good iron shot on 17. I saw Stacy was still 18‑under, and I was like, all right, I have a chance here. So all I was thinking was just picking my lines and just concentrating on my lines. I wasn’t thinking about needing to make a birdie, needing to make a birdie. I think that really helped.
And in one instance, it produced an extraordinary result:
And 18, wow, I mean, I hit a 4‑iron, 200 front, and I ended up on the back of the green. I didn’t really know where that came from.
Think about that a minute. Want to know just how good LPGA players are? How many women do you know who, with 200 yards to the front of the green on the critical hole, would hit 4-iron?
And earlier, she’d hit her ball into a cluster of TV cables, had to figure out whether to take the lie she had or take a drop. And then, she had to work her way into the ball while spectators held the cables out of the way. Rather than being disturbed by this interruption to her train of thought, she found it a laughable relief:
And then trying to figure out where to drop or not to drop and picking up wires. It’s kind of a nice distraction to be honest. It completely made me laugh, and I wasn’t really thinking about what I needed to do. It was actually a really nice distraction.
It was like double‑dutch [in jump roping]. I was jumping over wires with people holding onto them. It was really funny.
But her state of mind extended well beyond just this weird circumstance, it extended to some of the weird shots she was making too. Where did that come from? She didn’t worry about it:
I didn’t let it get to me. You know, I hooked a bunch into the water this week, hooked a bunch just in general. But it’s just another shot. You kind of have to forget about it and move on. I might have shanked a shot yesterday, but I birdied the next hole right back. I definitely wasn’t looking back. I just kept looking forward.
The biggest thing in her game has been her recent coaching change back to her coach when she was 15, Grant Price out of the IMG Golf Academy. But one of the pitfalls of any such change is thinking about it too much: paralysis by analysis as the saying goes:
You know, I was really trying to keep [all my thinking] behind the ball, so if I was working on something, whatever kind of trigger I had, I had behind the ball, and then I worked on it on the range after every single day. I talked to my coach last night, and I was telling him that my swing felt a little off. He goes, yeah, you were going back to your [old] swing ever since the 7th hole. I said, yeah, that explains a lot. All my bad shots came after the 7th hole.
So I went back to the range and worked on it there and kind of just forgot about what I had to do and was really concentrating on my targets after basically I got to the golf ball.
That’s what all the Tour players say: target, target, target.
Want to know just how talented she is? She’s going through this swing change and hadn’t even hit any woods until a week before this tournament. It was Grant that helped her break through her understandable doubts with his positive doses of optimism:
Grant means so much to me. He’s so positive, and that’s really kind of shown — it’s given me a lot of confidence this week. His positivity, and he’s like, you’re going to be ready for this week, you’re going to be ready for this week, regardless of how I was hitting it on the range, and I was not hitting it good.
I started hitting woods a week before I came here, so I really wasn’t that confident in myself. But him being on the range and constantly kind of encouraging the positive in me, into my mind, it helped me so much.
Can you imagine? Have you ever been approaching a big round feeling that you were unready? Remember what that was like? And Korda just stepped right over it.
But even the coaching change had some issues associated with it too. Grant has brain cancer:
I’ve known Grant since I was 15 years old, so I mean, I know how it is and what’s going on. But first thing I did, and I asked him, I was like, can you help me, and if you can’t, it’s completely okay. Like if you don’t feel up to it, then it’s fine. Like I don’t mind. But I need to know if you’re going to be okay first.
And that’s how every practice started. It wasn’t, oh, am I feeling okay. I asked how you were feeling, how long do you think you can stay, and let’s make the most of what we have and kind of move forward with that.
Like I said, just his positivity and being able to laugh on the golf course. I’ll hit a bad shot, and even when I did hit a bad shot, he’d be like, come here and talk to me, what are you thinking about, and not having it bottled up inside just helps a lot.
The other element that contributed to this win was her playoff victory in the 2012 ISPS Handa Australian Open. Was this win harder than that?
For sure. I mean, it’s either‑or. It was definitely harder in some aspects, but in some ways it was actually a little bit easier. I was nervous on 18, but I remembered that when I was nervous in the playoff, I had to keep moving. Like don’t stop moving.
Being able to breathe through each shot and keeping myself just really, just clear in my head of any kind of thoughts. I didn’t really look at what was going on in front of me.
Breathing. Something we take for granted in everyday life too.