This one change took Nelly Korda from 'very good' to 'historic' in 2024

LANCASTER, Pa. — You know that feeling when you’ve just had a great lesson from your pro, and you’re swinging free, making great contact, and playing the golf of your life, but you also know that it’s going to last about 48 hours before everything goes to hell in a handbasket again?

Turns out, the greatest player in women’s golf experiences that too. Kind of.

Ahead of this week’s U.S. Open, World no. 1 Nelly Korda spoke on Tuesday at length about a critical change she’s made for the 2024 season, which has been wildly successful. She’s won six of seven starts, including her second career major at the Chevron Championship. When asked for the secret to her phenomenal start, she had a simple answer.

“I’ve had Jamie [Mulligan] or Brett [Lederer] out here almost every single week,” she said, referring to her swing coaches. “The only week that I haven’t had someone out was during Cognizant, and I just didn’t really hit it that well that week.”

See? If you just had that pro with you all the time, you’d be as good as Korda. (Note: You wouldn’t.)

“Making sure that my team is taking time for me as well and coming out and making sure that we’re all dedicated to each other has kind of really been the thing that has changed this year,” she went on, “because every event that I’ve been to and I’ve played in, I’ve had a coach there.”

Later in the press conference, Korda laughed about a swing from the 2016 U.S. Open that was posted on Instagram, and how “bad” it looked it in comparison to the 2024 version. She credited David Whelan, the English golf instructor, for changing her game around, and had a message for anyone discouraged about their own game.

“That just shows how much there’s always hope really for anyone out there,” she said, “because I worked really, really hard on my swing.”

The presence of Mulligan and Lederer has been the real difference-maker this year, though, and she reiterated how important it is for her to have someone on-site ensuring that her swing is in its proper form on the days leading up to an event. Having someone physically present to literally place her in the proper positions in her swing has been critical, and that left to her own devices, what she thinks she’s doing is often the opposite of reality (something else the average recreational player can relate to).

Ensuring that Mulligan and Lederer made it out to more events was a key point of conversation with her entire team at the end of last season, and her tendency when things go wrong is to over-rotate her hands, which makes it more difficult to get back to the proper position in the downswing and at impact.

“I rarely had a coach out here with me last year and the years before,” she said, “and I love the fact that I have one out here now because before, if I wasn’t hitting it well … it’s different to have someone out here versus FaceTiming them and trying to figure it out on your own.”

Their presence will be more important than ever at Lancaster Country Club, a difficult, true U.S. Open course where Korda put the dilemma succinctly: “If you’re long, in a sense, you’re kind of screwed. If you’re short, you’re screwed too.”

Catch-22s aside, everyone here knows that if she’s on her game, nobody can beat her. And if she does end up winning her seventh tournament of the season and her third major, she’ll know who to credit with the assist.

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