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March 13, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Okay, everyone, it's my pleasure to welcome in Jessica and Nelly Korda here at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup media center.
Jessica, start with you. From jaw surgery to winning in Thailand, can you put into words what these last few months have been like.
JESSICA KORDA: Hard. Yeah, no, it's not been fun. And I have a cold now if anyone is wondering, so just add that to the list.
No, I mean, it's been difficult. I didn't know when I was going to be able to come back. I was signed up for tournaments that I didn't know if I could go to. The anxiety of flying for the first time and preparing for something that you don't know what it's going to look like. Coming off such good finishes my last two tournaments, I didn't know what to expect.
Not one time did I actually count my score when I was playing before I left. I think I was 7-over through six holes the day I was leaving to Thailand, so I was like, Okay, this is going to be great. Thankfully no cut.
Yeah, I mean, winning in Thailand was awesome. Such a great experience. To be able to win at a tournament where I start my career is also -- you just can't write it any better.
NELLY KORDA: And she crushed it. (Whip noise.)
JESSICA KORDA: Mic works.
Q. Nelly, what was it like watching your sister go through everything in the off-season and then seeing her win in Thailand?
NELLY KORDA: It was definitely hard. When I saw her for the first time after her surgery it was three or four days after. I had to help her get into my parents' room because she kicked my dad out of the bed. She was sleeping with my mom.
JESSICA KORDA: I had to be monitored.
NELLY KORDA: My dad was in the guest room for like a month. It was really hard. She was drooling obviously because she couldn't fuel the bottom half of her face. Taking off her clothes was a bit difficult because she didn't have any center of gravity so she would fall over.
It was definitely hard see her at that stage. Yeah, I was really proud seeing her win in Malaysia. She crushed it really. I think I did play in front of her -- did I just say Malaysia again?
JESSICA KORDA: No, you said Thailand.
NELLY KORDA: Okay.
JESSICA KORDA: We did an interview and she kept saying Malaysia, Malaysia, Malaysia. I was like, it's Thailand. (Laughter.)
NELLY KORDA: I signed my scorecard as fast as I could and ran out to see her finish the last hole. It was really exciting. Austin and I, I think, we were the first ones to spray her.
JESSICA KORDA: I was ready for it.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, it was really exciting. It was great.
Q. Nelly, you almost found yourself in the winner's circle a week later in Singapore. What was that like for you? And then Jessica, you in turn watching Nelly go for her first win?
JESSICA KORDA: For me, I was so proud of her, you know, the way she was playing all week. I didn't see her at all. We were in opposite towers, and honestly it was way too far to walk. I would just FaceTime her because I was like, I'm too tired. I don't want to walk.
Our friends would go to dinner together and then Austin would come up to my room and Megan would go up to her room. I'm going to see Little Korda. Okay, I'm going to see Big Korda. See ya! So our friends had to come see us because we were too tired.
She played so great. That shot she hit into 18 shows some real guts right there. Everyone else would be going 30 feet left and then trying to make a long putt, but not her. She kind of showed what she was made of.
She didn't lose that tournament. Michelle made an amazing putt on 18. She played great that whole day. You can't beat a score like that. It's really difficult. Being in that position for the first time, she handled herself really well.
Told her that she shot under par, she definitely didn't lose it, and that her time will come. This is all a learning experience. When she is in that position next time she's know better. She'll know how she's feeling; she can prepare better for it; she can kind of feed off that experience.
NELLY KORDA: It was definitely any emotional day. I think my emotions were flowing on 18. I saw Jess behind the green when I was walking up to 18 and I had to hold back some tears.
I think like when I just missed that putt and I saw her and she gave me the hug I just completely lost it. I had a couple tears going down my face.
I mean, it's golf and it's life. There will be other opportunities. Hopefully I will put myself into more positions like that. I was definitely proud of myself, that I gave it my all.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. First of all, do you still feel numb?
JESSICA KORDA: Oh, yeah. I can't feel this, this, my teeth. I think right now having a cold I have so much pressure in my face so I'm back on like a liquidy diet.
My teeth hurt. Like brushing my teeth is the most painful experience ever. It's like hitting your funny bone and you have that like electricity almost running up and down your hand and it almost hurts. That's what my teeth feel like.
But it's a part of the process. I knew that this was going to be it. I have a little bit more feeling in my lip, but it doesn't feel great. Yeah, it's just great.
Q. This wasn't my next question, but your mom had a tough injury early on in her career. I think your dad told me she basically rose to No. 25 in the world on one leg. Did you get your toughness from her?
JESSICA KORDA: Everyone is like, Oh, this must have been really tough on you. I think it was honestly tougher on my family than it was on me.
I couldn't -- I mean, I saw myself, but I was on some very heavy medication. Mom and I were talking about my surgery before I was coming here, because I was saying that there is not a lot of information about it and I get a lot of questions now, you know, referrals back to my surgeon.
She lost it. She started crying. I don't even want to think about it. It was awful.
NELLY KORDA: I mean, she was sleep deprived for like a week.
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah.
NELLY KORDA: She had to wake up every two hours and give her medication.
JESSICA KORDA: To change my ice, give me medication. I was throwing up blood; I couldn't breathe; couldn't go to the bathroom by myself; couldn't shower by myself; couldn't put my shoes on, walk, anything.
It was like having a six foot baby, but worse.
Q. I wanted to ask Nelly, on TV I saw Jess put her arm around you as you're walking off the 18th toward the clubhouse I assume. What does she say to you in that moment?
JESSICA KORDA: Can you even remember?
NELLY KORDA: I don't know. I think I just had so many emotions going through my head. I was like, Dang it.
JESSICA KORDA: She was not happy. She was not happy with herself and she was crying.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah. I think there were just so many emotions going through me at that point. I had the lead pretty much all day. I was watching -- I'm a scoreboard watcher, so I was watching the scoreboard.
Danielle and I were fighting for the lead constantly. Like I dropped off and then she dropped off. We just could not make anything on the back nine.
If you look at our scorecards on the back nine, Brooke had so many opportunities, Danielle had so many opportunities, I had so many opportunities. We only had one birdie, all three of us, on the back nine. That's a very scorable back nine.
It's just like so many emotions were going through me. I think I remember saying like, It's okay. Like there are other tournaments. I know it's hard right now, and I'm just like, I can't believe this.
JESSICA KORDA: She was just like, No, it's not; I was like, Yes, it is. The sisterly thing. She was like, I lost it, and I was like, No, you didn't. I'm trying to be positive and she doesn't want me to be positive.
Why can't be like I am right now? I'm like, It's fine. It's golf. You'll learn. It's going to be okay. I think. I don't really know. (Laughter.)
NELLY KORDA: Yeah.
Q. Nelly, I imagine winning you have to overcome a lot of things to win. Watching Jessica overcome a lot of challenges, do you draw strength from that or does it not work that way? Life and golf different? Did you find strength in seeing that?
NELLY KORDA: It definitely motivated me for the next week. You know, seeing her go through all that in the off-season, and for her to come out the first week and completely crush us all was amazing.
Then I was like, Huh, I really want that win. (Laughter.) You know, it was definitely inspiring. It's definitely going to make me work a lot harder this year just to get the first win. I know the first win is kind of like the hardest win.
JESSICA KORDA: So is the second and third and fourth.
NELLY KORDA: Every win is hard out here, yes. It's because everyone wants that first win so much.
JESSICA KORDA: Everyone is just so good. Look at the scores. It's just ridiculous how every single year they're lower and lower and lower and you just have to make birdies. Par just do not cut it on this tour anymore. It's crazy. It's absolutely crazy how good everyone is and how everyone feeds off everyone.
The way the Tour is going, I really like being out here. All my friends are out here. It's fun. I look forward to coming out here. You'll see girls having putting matches out on the putting green. When I was a rookie you would never see that.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, like my friend Megan, we spent -- we were together in Malaysia. We had connecting rooms in Malaysia. Did I say Malaysia again? Thailand. Thailand.
JESSICA KORDA: Surely you guys had connecting rooms.
NELLY KORDA: So we had connecting rooms in Thailand, and then in Singapore I just gave her a key and she just walked into my room whenever.
When we were back home last week she was like, I have separation anxiety.
JESSICA KORDA: That's how it is these days. Everyone is really close. Everyone travels together. Like I said, when I first came out I was the youngest out here. There was not even anybody close to my age. It was hard.
Now it's like you can't walk five yards without saying hi to someone that your friends with and planning dinners. Driving 30 minutes out of way to go get cupcakes for a player meeting. These things happen now and it's just way more fun.
I think it translates to the golf course where people see us having more fun. I love playing with my friends out here. I want them to play well because that's going to motivation me to play well and it's a good show. That's what people want: A good show.
Q. Obviously you're close and love each other, but having gone through the experience, Nelly, watching Jessica go through that, are you even closer because of that?
NELLY KORDA: I mean, I don't know.
JESSICA KORDA: I don't think it changed our relationship.
NELLY KORDA: No.
JESSICA KORDA: I used to change her all the time when she was little kid. Nobody treats me any different. I don't see a reason to. Just because I had surgery and I look a little different I'm still the same person. We still have the same relationship. Just because my outside changed my insides are still the same.
Q. When I was on the plane coming out here I was listening to Serena and Venus talk about meeting each other early in a tournament in the first time in forever. Do you talk about that, what it would be like to be in the final group together squaring off? Do you think about it?
NELLY KORDA: No.
JESSICA KORDA: Not really, no.
Q. Has that ever happened?
JESSICA KORDA: I really wanted to be in the same group with her in Malaysia. Dang it. Look what you've done to me.
NELLY KORDA: It's like the same place. It's hot. Same scenery.
JESSICA KORDA: No. I really thought we may be in the same group. I've played behind her so many times now, so I'm always watching to see what she does. I feel like every time we play together we don't play that great. It's kind of good that we don't play in the final round.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, we played together the first two days of Blue Bay, right?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah.
Q. Why do you think that is? Are you distracted? Worried about the other player too much?
NELLY KORDA: No, it's like playing with...
Q. Like a practice round or...
JESSICA KORDA: No, it's the same as if I were to go play with Alison or Michelle. It's like Nelly. I don't think of it like I'm playing with my sister. I just think if it as I'm playing with Nelly.
NELLY KORDA: She just knows me really well.
JESSICA KORDA: We have stuff to talk about. Once we hit our shots, we talk about anything and everything.
NELLY KORDA: Or if...
JESSICA KORDA: Or if the other person is really upset you just don't talk to them at all because you know it's bad.
NELLY KORDA: Or if you hit a really bad shot you're like, What the heck? What were you thinking? (Laughter.)
Q. Looking into this week, what's it like coming to this tournament? Nelly, this is your second year here. What is it like playing in front of the founders? What do you guys like about coming to Phoenix?
NELLY KORDA: I just love it here. I love Phoenix. The restaurants are really good. No, I mean, second year on tour I'll know the golf courses a bit better so I won't have to play 18 Mondays and see if I get into the pro-ams during the week.
I'll just be a bit more comfortable than I was in the past.
JESSICA KORDA: I think this tournament is really special. I've played in it since day one eight years ago, and I just love to see how much it's changed.
You know, walking off 18 and all of our legends, the women that have built this tour, are there watching us play and genuinely excited to see us and we are genuinely excited to see them.
It's just great. I love the history of this tournament. I love everything is stands for. Even where we've worked out way from day one to where we are now, it's just really special to see.
And the crowds here are incredible, you know, with it being obviously spring training with baseball. We just get some really cool crowds.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, it's definitely a really exciting week.
Q. There has been a lot chatter on the men's tour, USGA and PGA, about the ball roll-back. The women are hitting it further than they ever have also. Do you have any thoughts, pro or con, on rolling the golf ball back?
JESSICA KORDA: We don't hit -- we don't even sniff what the guys hit it.
Q. I know that, but statistically today's women players as a group are hitting it further than they did 15, 20 years ago, as are the men. I am wondering if you have in any thoughts on rolling the ball back 10% to 15%?
JESSICA KORDA: I've not thought about it. I still hit it the same exact distances when I was 17, when I was 14. Maybe I rolled it further then actually.
But I still hit it the same exact distance as when I first started. I might actually hit it further than I did in the middle of the year, and that's only due to the fact that I actually roll the ball out now, so I got fitted for something different.
My carries have not changed since day one. I am still the same. So me personally, doesn't affect me at all. I think it's something that will affect the men if it happens.
All have to do is tighten up a golf course. Put some bunkers in. Make it visually difficult. I mean, the men are in the trees more than anyone, just make it a little bit more difficult and then you won't be seeing scores as high as they are.
Their wedges -- the men's short game is some of the best short game I've ever seen in my life. You can't even compare.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, when they look at how we strike the ball they're like, Oh, my Gosh, you guys hit it so straight. Then when we look at their short game we're like, Oh, my gosh, that's so good. (Laughter.)
JESSICA KORDA: Honestly, I don't think that the golf ball is totally the problem. If you just make the golf course a little harder...
Q. Out of the two of you, growing up who was more of a troublemaker?
JESSICA KORDA: She was.
NELLY KORDA: What are you talking about? I was an angel.
JESSICA KORDA: You weren't always an a gel.
NELLY KORDA: I was.
JESSICA KORDA: Nelly always wanted to hang out with me. Like all the time. All the time. It's not cool for a ten-year-old to have her five-year-old sister with her.
Then if I would eat something, like a Twinkie or something that I am not supposed to, the first person that knew about it was my mom and dad.
I was like, You're not coming with me anymore. In terms of who was the bigger troublemaker, I am going to go with her because I got told on so much.
NELLY KORDA: That stopped.
JESSICA KORDA: That stopped once our brother started doing it to her. She understood where I was coming from.
NELLY KORDA: But the actual angel in the house was me.
JESSICA KORDA: The actual angel in the house is Sebastian. He's the only boy.
Q. If you could describe your sister in a hashtag, what would be it?
JESSICA KORDA: Hashtag selfie.
NELLY KORDA: Now it would be like, I dont' know, all about Charlie. Dog lover. Mommy. Whenever I see a new post about Charlie I'm like, Really?
JESSICA KORDA: She didn't appreciate that into my Instagram bio I put Charlie's mommy. She was like, Seriously Jess.
NELLY KORDA: No, I was like, Oh, no. No, this is not acceptable. (Laughter.)
JESSICA KORDA: I was like, But I love him.
Q. Did you keep it?
JESSICA KORDA: No.
NELLY KORDA: She has an emoji.
Q. Jessica, I've heard you mention a couple times on tour, like especially last year, where you kind of wanted Nelly to in some ways grow on the Tour and have her own friends. Can you tell us kind of why you wanted that to happen and how you tried to bring that about?
JESSICA KORDA: She's so young. At that age you're trying to figure out who you are, what you like, what you don't like. She should be able to do it on her own, just like I did. Figure out what I like, what I don't like, who are my friends, who aren't my friends. She shouldn't have to always be Jessica's little sister or Little Korda, even though I feel like that's going to stick forever.
I wanted her to be her. If she didn't want to come play at 9:00 with me, she didn't have to. She could go play at 4:00 and play the back nine. If I was going to practice at 7:30, she doesn't need to go with me at 7:30.
If she wants to go eat at a different place, go eat at a different place. You are your own person, and that's what's going to make you a better golfer, is because you are you.
If you're happy, your golf is good. If you're comfortable with yourself...
NELLY KORDA: It's all about balance.
JESSICA KORDA: It is, and she needs to be herself. We're always going to come together. I'm always there for her if she needs me in any possible way. I'll drop whatever I'm doing and come help her.
But she needs to be Nelly.
NELLY KORDA: I mean, at the beginning of the season I was like, Jess, practice round? Because I didn't know anyone out here.
JESSICA KORDA: It's a comfort thing out here as well. You don't know if they will accept who you are and how you are, and that's how I was. It took me a while to show my true self because there -- I didn't know if I was going to be accepted.
If like my type of humor is -- if they'll understand me, being so young. Are we going to be able to connect on a level?
These days it's not a problem.
Q. Did you actually explain that to Nelly then?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, she knows. We have had very honest conversations about why she should go to Symetra before the LPGA. Why we're not even talking about going to the LPGA Tour. Why that steppingstone is so important for someone that young to learn, to figure out, Is this what I want to do? Traveling a bunch of weeks in a row under the radar. People underestimate what it's like to be under the radar and how important it is at a young age to develop your own skills.
Q. One more question. Last one. It's not a sister's questions. With Tiger having a chance to win last week and he's playing again this week, how much are you following that?
NELLY KORDA: Oh, my gosh.
JESSICA KORDA: Oh, my gosh.
NELLY KORDA: I was glued to the TV. I was like, Oh, my gosh, that putting stroke I want.
JESSICA KORDA: Just the confidence. You know, you can see from first week when he was out, like just the way he carried himself on the golf course versus how he carried himself last week. His chest is out and he's walking with so much confidence. You're like, That's the Tiger. That's him.
I've seen him out at Medalist too and just seen how hard he's been working. It's just inspiring. He's inspired all of us were all of us 2011, '10, '08.
NELLY KORDA: '16.
JESSICA KORDA: We're Tiger's kids basically. We've watched him play. We watched him hit those shots. Like he is our idol.
NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I mean, you just have like a completely different feeling when you're watching Tiger on TV. Like it's -- I can't even describe it.
JESSICA KORDA: I geeked out so hard when I saw him after the season ended. We were playing on Thanksgiving and I walked into the halfway house and he was like, So, who won the bet between you two? I was like, You talking to me?
He was like, Yeah. I was like, I did. I won. He goes, What did you win? I go, a purse. Rory goes, That's exactly what we played for, right Tiger? I was like, Okay, this is awkward.
I called Nelly. I was like, Tiger knows who we are. So like you geek out totally. It's really, really cool because this is your golfing hero.
Same thing when we know went and spent some time with Jack Nicklaus. Play golf with him, you like you totally geek out because these are your golfing heros.
Q. This was at medalist where you saw him?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah.
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