Nelly Korda eyes breakthrough at the Amundi Evian Championship in fifth start since blood clot

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The first half of the LPGA Tour season hasn’t gone as Nelly Korda, or perhaps anyone, expected.

One year removed from a dominating stretch that saw the American win her first major, capture Olympic gold and climb to No. 1 in the world rankings, Korda returns to the Amundi Evian Championship in a much different position than she was 12 months ago, having slipped to No. 3 in the world and with no wins this season.

“To stay healthy. That's my No. 1 goal,” Korda said when asked about her priorities for the second half of the season. “To be happy, and, yeah, honestly, just to stay healthy. Keeping it simple this year.”

Full-field tee times from the Amundi Evian Championship

Korda didn’t get a fair shake at showing what she could have achieved this year after a dominating four-win performance last season. A blood clot sidelined Korda for four months in the early stretch of the season. On Thursday, she will compete for just the fifth time since returning from surgery.

Even as Korda arrives at the fourth major of the year – running out of opportunities to add another big win to her resume in 2022 – she doesn’t feel the pressure to make up for the months she missed away from competition.

“I wasn't even sure when I [would] come back, obviously, after everything that happened,” Korda said Wednesday in France. “I'm just happy I'm here.”

Perspective has a way of changing people. It certainly has for Korda.

While those outside the Korda sisters’ tight inner-circle are largely in the dark when it comes to the severity of the blood clot she had surgically removed, the remarks Korda has made since her return indicate the health scare was a real wake-up call for the 23-year-old. Wednesday, she continued to show gratitude and appreciation at the opportunity to simply compete. Her primary focus is her health, rather than her game, and that provides sobering insight into the ordeal Korda endured.

“I played some solid golf and worked hard since I've been able to play,” Korda said. “I go into every event wanting to contend, wanting to win. I know that a lot of girls have a lot more rounds under their belts, and I just appreciate every round that I have got to play this year.”

Korda may downplay her lack of reps compared to her competition, but she’s made the most of her limited playing time.

Since returning to competition in May at the U.S. Women’s Open, she’s finished in the top 10 in three of her four starts. She arrives in France playing some of her best golf of the year as she recorded a final-round 61, on her own ball, while teaming up with her sister, Jessica, at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last week.

“I feel like when you really grind in one part of the game, you expect a little bit more from it. Then it disappoints you at the end,” Nelly Korda said about the time she’s spent on her short game. “I've just been trying to balance it out, kind of relax a little bit more on the putting green.”

The first half of the season hasn't gone as Korda expected, and she’s not quite sure how this week will go, either.

She didn’t get a chance to play the back nine of the Evian Golf Resort’s Champions Course because weather shortened the pro-am scheduled for Wednesday to nine holes. But she took the setback in stride, confident in the four other times she’s competed on the course, where she’s looking to record her first top-10.

“I know in years prior, the greens have definitely been firmer and faster. They're a lot softer,” Korda said about the course conditions. “We'll see how it plays out. Every year is different.”