BEDMINSTER, N.J. — No matter how hot or stormy the weather, Regina Rajchrtova will walk 36 holes each day of the United States Women’s Open.
On Friday morning, she tied a black garbage bag around her waist like a sarong and set out to trek through the rain around Trump National Golf Club to follow around her younger daughter, Nelly Korda. In the afternoon, she would head out again to follow her older daughter, Jessica Korda.
“That’s pretty amazing, to have two daughters in the same U.S. Open. Has that ever happened before?” the trainer Rob Akins asked Rajchrtova on Nelly Korda’s fourth hole.
Nelly, 18, and Jessica, 24, are one of two pairs of sisters competing at the Open this year, along with Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand. And this is the third time the Korda sisters are both competing at the Open, but the first in which they are competing as professionals — Nelly received her pro card last year.
“She’s one of my best friends,” said Jessica, who turned pro in 2010 and has won four tournaments. “So it’s just really special to have her out here and see her living out her dream. I feel like a parent. I cried when she got her card. It was literally the coolest thing ever.”
Rajchrtova and her husband, Petr Korda, who are from the Czech Republic, were professional tennis players, and Petr won the Australian Open in 1998. Their three children, including son Sebastian, were born in the United States and grew up playing several sports. The U.S. Open is just a girls’ trip: Korda and his son were at Wimbledon, where Sebastian, 17, was competing in the junior tournament.
Jessica played tennis and did gymnastics and ballet, but growing up in Florida, she gravitated toward golf because there was seemingly a course around every corner.
The way Rajchrtova tells it, Nelly did not have a chance to get into any other sport. She had always looked up to her sister and tried to emulate her in all walks of life.
“Being so far apart in age, it was something cool for us to do together,” said Jessica, who is ranked 24th. “It was a family thing, especially at the beginning of my career.”
As the girls’ interest in the sport grew, they began to practice and play six days a week. But the house rule was school first, golf second.
After graduating from high school, Jessica immediately turned pro. Rajchrtova said Nelly aspired to go to college but “doesn’t see when that will happen exactly, with this crazy schedule.”
The Korda sisters are not rooming together at the Open because it was not a guarantee that they would both be playing in Bedminster this year. Jessica earned entry by virtue of her position on last year’s L.P.G.A. money list, but Nelly, ranked 95th, had to go through qualifying.
Playing in Bradenton, Fla., she fell short, earning alternate status. She booked a flight and a hotel, just in case a spot in the field opened up for her. She got the call that she was in the field less than an hour before her flight was set to take off.
Both sisters made the cut, with Nelly, at two under, six shots off the lead entering Saturday’s third round, and Jessica at even par.
At a tournament in May, Jessica and Nelly played in the same group for the first time on the L.P.G.A. Tour.
“We’ve played so many rounds together, so many practice rounds, it’s just like playing with another girl,” Nelly said. “We just have more to talk about. And we know more about each other.”
Published at Sat, 15 Jul 2017 16:28:41 +0000