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ORLANDO, Fla. — A year ago at this time, Nelly Korda flipped on the TV to watch Tiger and Charlie Woods compete at the PNC Championship.
“I was glued to the TV the entire time,” she recalled. “I just thought it would be really special to be able to play in that one day.”
To qualify, Korda had to win a major championship, which she accomplished earlier this year at the KPMG PGA Women’s Championship in Atlanta. This weekend, she’ll be making her debut in the two-person best-ball 36-hole competition at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club that pairs a major winner with a father, grandfather (Gary Player) son or daughter, or even a father-in-law (in the case of Bubba Watson).
Korda’s the first current World No. 1 to compete in tournament history and the second female professional to participate after Annika Sorenstam in 2019 and 2020. She’ll be teaming with Father, Petr, a former professional tennis player and winner of the 1998 Australian Open.
“I’ve been telling my dad, I’m like, ‘It’s my offseason. Like you’re the star of the show. It’s your time to shine,’ ” she said. “He’s going to be the one dropping bombs.”
Petr and his wife have raised two LPGA stars (sister Jess, who just got married, is a force to be reckoned with too) and a tennis star in son Seb. Petr recalled his first exposure to golf being former World No. 1 men’s pro Ivan Lendl, traveling the circuit with his golf clubs.
“I always told him what the hell you’re having in your hands?” Petr said.
When asked if she’s a better tennis player or is her dad a better golfer, Nelly said, “Oh, he’s for sure a better golfer. Yeah. I’m not a very good tennis player. I barely play.”
Petr barely plays golf. He said he gave away his clubs to a friend eight years ago and just got a new set two months ago. He’s been practicing of late and was proud of getting his first tee shot airborne in front of Vijay Singh during his practice round. But to hear Nelly tell it, Petr can get it around better than most.
“I win like only like 1-up, and I don’t give him any shots,” she said. “Like either he just gets in my head, or he just turns it on when he putts.”
Petr has been a devoted father, watching his girls move up the ranks from junior to amateur to the upper echelons of professional golf, but playing inside the ropes is a new experience for him.
“I told Nelly, ‘I’m the tennis player.’ I feel like I don’t belong over here. I’ll try my best, and hopefully she’s not going to be disappointed,” Petr said. “That special role I had when I was telling my kids what to do, not to do, I think after this tournament will be gone because they will be the ones telling me what to do and how to do it.”