Nelly the nerd? How video games are helping Korda handle No. 1 pressure

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Nelly Korda will play in her first major as world No. 1 beginning Thursday at the Amundi Evian Championship in France. With even more media attention as the best female golfer in the world, Korda finds herself, at times, in a surreal whirlwind.  

“It's just been really special, and sometimes I'm like, pinch me. Is this even real?” Korda told the press on Wednesday.

More demands as world No. 1 and a high-stakes schedule – Evian, Olympics, AIG Women’s Open and Solheim Cup – could result in the young star cramping up to the pressure, but she remains calm and collected with her small bubble of friends and family that she holds close. In addition to Korda’s unique bond with her sister, Jessica, and the rest of her family, her caddie, Jason McDede, plays a big part in helping Korda contend for major titles and deal with the constant pressure.

“He’s like a big brother, a psychologist sometimes, but also my biggest supporter, and he's always in my corner," Korda said. "I’m super grateful for him.”

Korda’s best finish in the Evian was two years ago, a T-25.

“You can hit good shots and you get a really bad bounce and you're just in an impossible position. You can hit a bad shot and it trickles up there and you sink it for birdie. So it's more of just like a mental aspect and also just knowing where to miss,” she said, also noting Evian Resort Golf Club’s “funky” greens with numerous ridges that add to the difficulty.

“Every week I go into a tournament with a new mindset. It doesn't matter the ranking,” added Korda when asked if she feels more pressure as world No. 1. “A lot of people put a lot of pressure on these weeks and they tire themselves out so much, especially mentally, and I think if you're tired mentally then, which I've learned in the past, you're just dead, drained.”

Full-field scores from The Amundi Evian Championship

Korda’s gaming laptop, she said, works perfectly to keep her mind off of golf which will help sustain her energy in the next few weeks. 

“Right now Call of Duty and Modern Warfare,” said Korda when asked what games she plays. “But when I was a kid I really liked card games, so I may download one of those. Complete nerd coming out of me right now.”

Korda stresses the importance of needing activities that keep her mind off of golf when she’s not in competition mode.

“You kind of need a way to kind of escape a little sometimes, so I was like, hmm, may as well try it out," she said. "A big goal is to contend in these tournaments, so just kind of trying to figure it out a little bit more each year.”