Exclusive Q&A: Nelly Korda On Solheim Cup, Preferred Partners And Whether It's A 'Must Win'

As team USA prepares to try and win back the Solheim Cup, we spoke to Nelly Korda ahead of her third appearance

Nelly Korda hits a drive
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nelly Korda will be a pivotal player for the USA in the 18th edition of the Solheim Cup, hoping to turn individual form into success at the third attempt. We spoke to her ahead of her appearance in Spain.

Which aspect of this year’s event are you most excited about?

Representing my country is so much fun. I’ve been lucky enough to play in two Solheim Cups already, although I have now been on the losing team twice! So, I’m hopeful we can bring it back to the US; that would be nice. The experience is really enjoyable, not only for yourself but also for your team and your country. It’s a unique experience; there’s nothing quite like it. The crowds are chanting and creating a completely chaotic, crazy and fun energy.

When you mention the crowds and the incredible energy of the match, how do you actually control your emotions on the course?

I’m pretty composed out there and I don’t show too much emotion. Growing up in a tennis family, I admire Roger Federer’s demeanour, but I also appreciate the grit and fight of Rafael Nadal. In golf, you really have to control your emotions, as it’s not about running around but maintaining focus and managing your heart rate to stay fully committed to each shot. I’m very tame – if you see me throw out a fist bump, it’s usually because I’m in contention on the back nine on Sunday! But during the Solheim Cup, I do feel a bit more energised because it’s such a fun and different experience. It seems to bring out more enthusiasm in me.

Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing Solheim Cup 2021

Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing react to a winning putt during a foursomes match in 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Given that Europe has defeated the US team on the last two occasions, do you perceive this upcoming match as a ‘must win’ for Team USA to turn things around and restore a bit of balance?

Honestly, I don’t think there’s ever a must. There’s a want. You know you are going to come in and bring 100 per cent of yourself, and I think all of us do that every single match. And if that’s not enough, unfortunately, that sucks. But all of us give 110 per cent and that’s what I do in every event I play.

How do you feel about the presence of Solheim Cup rookies on the team and, having played in two previous matches, do you consider yourself a team leader now? 

Yeah, it’s been that way every year – a very different team. Although we have a core group – maybe four or five players – on the US team, I think the team has been a little inconsistent. But certainly there are new faces like Allisen Corpuz, who recently won at Pebble Beach, and Lilia Vu, who won the Chevron Championship and AIG Women's Open, so it’s going to be a different experience. I don’t see myself as a team leader. Thank God we have Stacy [Lewis]. We’ll just listen to our captain!

What is your knowledge of the golf course at Finca Cortesin in Spain?

Nothing! All I know is that it’s very hilly and if you play 36 holes, you’ll be sleeping very well that night.

Tell us about your Solheim Cup highlights from your matches so far and what valuable lessons have you taken away from your previous experiences in the event?

My highlight was playing with my sister, Jessica. I believe that getting along with your playing partner is crucial. When I played with my sister we had a great bond, and the same was true when I played with Ally Ewing and Brittany Altomare. The captain does an excellent job of mixing and matching, because having someone you can lean on out there is essential.

Nelly and Jessica Korda Solheim Cup 2019

Nelly with her sister Jessica at the 2019 Solheim Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you had the opportunity to select a partner for the foursomes or four-ball matches, who would be your top choice?

Yeah, I mean, I love one of my really good friends, Megan Khang. I also played best ball with Lilia Vu in San Francisco for the International Crown. I really like her as well. But honestly, I think we’re in good hands, and I am easy-going. I get along with just about anyone, so I’m open to partnering whoever.

As an undefeated player in Solheim Cup singles matches, what is your preference for the position you go out on the final day? 

I like to be first to middle, but although I can tell the captain my preference, it’s not my call. Even if I was asked to go out last, I wouldn’t say no. It’s not just about me; it’s about what is best for the team.

Your parents both enjoyed considerable sporting success. What’s the best advice they’ve ever given you ahead of any event?

There’s a lot! But they have always preached that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. That is something all three of us [Korda children] have always had ingrained into our brains. 

Alison Root

Alison Root has over 25 years experience working in media and events, predominantly dedicated to golf, in particular the women’s game. Until 2020, for over a decade Alison edited Women & Golf magazine and website, and in addition to writing, overseeing all content and developing industry relationships, she was the go-to voice for TV and radio to comment on breaking women’s golf stories. Alison is also the Editorial Director of Glorious, the new digital platform devoted to elevating women’s sport and that includes golf! She is a 14-handicap golfer (should be better) and despite having had the fantastic opportunity to play some of the best golf courses around the world, Kingsbarns in Scotland is her favourite.