Nelly Korda’s hat-trick is proof Scottie Scheffler is not the only American dominating golf

Except sport, and especially golf, is in the habit of making a mockery of projection. Illness and injuries stymied the staggering ascent. In early 2022 she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her arm and in those worrying moments before and after surgery, her career was clearly not the primary concern.

Blessedly, she returned unhindered, but, still young, the experience understandably took its toll. Korda never tumbled further than fifth in the world and the swing has remained never less than adorable.

But there has been only one top five in the majors since her glory at the 2021 US Women’s PGA and that year’s Olympics. And quite frankly, for someone of her majesty, that is a poor return.

She was plagued by back issues last year, a consequence of the torque in her swing. Korda is not the first to suffer pain in her lower back and it has served as a confirmation that what may look pleasing to the eye, is not always kindly on the spine.

She has refined her set-up and on the evidence of 2024 so far, is back to her very best. In fact, Whelan believes that the very best is yet to come.

“She has all that is required,” he told me. “I’m not sure anything in this game is beyond her.”

For her part, Korda is wary of the competition with her former self. She is more mature and feels stronger because of work in the gym, but that garlanded year will take some eclipsing. “It’s easy to compare for sure, but I think that the golf that I’m playing right now, hopefully it leads me to the year that I had in 2021 or better,” Korda said.

Majors are everything to the likes of Scheffler and Korda (although to the latter her Olympic defence in Paris in the summer is plainly on the same level). These runs in regular events of course have their own intrinsic value, but without the validation of the biggest tournaments of all, they are but the sizzle without the sausage.

For Korda, as for Scheffler, the challenge in these next few weeks is to transfer the award-winning brilliance from the wings to the centre of the stage.

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