NAPLES, Fla. — Nellie Korda’s 2022 comeback story appeared to reach its climax last week when, after suffering a dangerous blood clot in March, she earned her first LPGA win of the season and reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking. Two days her coach, Jamie Mulligan, later gave an interview to Golfweek in which he provided more details about the illness than Korda had. According to Mulligan, the blood clot she suffered from was two centimeters from her heart and that Korda “sounded emotional” at the time of the incident and that her hands were “turning strange colors” the day she was diagnosed.
Korda was in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., that day, where the PGA Tour is headquartered, and Mulligan said he called PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who helped Korda get immediate medical attention. Korda underwent a procedure that was supposed to take 45 minutes but actually lasted nearly three hours, according to Mulligan.
It’s a considerably more harrowing story than the version Korda gave at the US Women’s Open in June after her return, which lacked much detail, particularly regarding the cause of the blood clots. If nothing else, Mulligan’s version makes an already impressive comeback all the more eye-opening.
At Wednesday’s CME Group Tour Championship, however, Korda expressed annoyance at the report.
“I wasn’t very happy with that article because it was very … I think it was quite exaggerated,” she said. “It definitely wasn’t that bad, but I’m very private about my medical history, my medical issues. So, in a way, yes, I think this article is just exaggerated, to be honest.”
Korda and her team have a reputation for being a tight-knit group – a fact that was only cemented this year – and when asked about it, she confirmed: “Personally, yes.” When asked why a member of her inner circle would talk about her incident with a reporter without clearing it with her first, she was clearly not happy, only adding: “No. I have nothing to say”.
No clarification was received on which parts of Mulligan’s story were exaggerated or false, and the news conference moved on to other topics — specifically how her season has progressed since returning from rehab in early June. Korda’s travels took her from Europe to Canada and back to the US and ultimately resulted in two missed cuts in September.
“I think it was more of a mental fatigue for me where I just felt like I was living in a suitcase and I was just tired,” she said. “Well, lesson learned.”
After taking time off in October, Korda returned to win the Pelican Women’s Championship last week, and she credits a calmer attitude for the victory.
“I feel like the expectations definitely drive you crazy in a way,” she said. “And I feel like it’s good to have people around you to calm you down and bring you back down to earth. I’ve had that, so I’m definitely very grateful to them. Even with what I’ve been through, it felt like the beginning of the year was just like any other year. I feel like last year is light years away in a way.”
Now life is good for Korda. Her caddy is expecting a child, she met singer Keith Urban at the pro party on Wednesday, and this week she will be playing for the biggest first prize in women’s golf history — $2 million. Even if she’s upset about a perceived violation of her privacy, she’s also focused and approaching a new high.
After a year that has been difficult, no matter what the exact details, it’s a big accomplishment and a major concern for the rest of the field this week.