CHONBURI, THAILAND – FEBRUARY 23: Jessica Korda of United States tees off at 8th hole during the Honda LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on February 23, 2018 in Chonburi, Thailand. (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)
By Keely Levins
Early in December, Jessica Korda had major jaw surgery to fix persistent, painful headaches. The procedure left her laid up, unable to hit balls until the middle of January.
Still, the less-than-ideal off-season—and the 27 screws in her jaw—don’t seem to be affecting the 24-year-old’s game in the least. On Friday at the Honda LPGA Thailand, her first LPGA event of the season, Korda took the 36-hole lead after shooting a course-record 10-under 62 at Siam Country Club, including a 29 on the back nine. Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle on the 18th hole (her third over the first two days of the tournament).
“I struggle on this course every year, but this year I have a whole new outlook with everything I’m doing,” said Korda, who has a four-stroke lead on Brittany Lincicome. “It’s awesome. I was just trying to give myself a chance. It was a pretty cool round.”
Part of what made the round so enjoyable for Korda was the the fact that just 2½ months after surgery, she’s able to play free of headaches, the surgery having seemed to be a success.
“Basically, I had double jaw surgery,” Korda said. “I have a couple screws in my face. I still can’t feel anything. No pain at all on the course, just numb. The headaches are gone.”
The 62 on Friday marked the first time in 10 years that Korda shot 10 under. She has her putter to thank for the record round: she had just 21 putts on Friday.
The last time Korda won an LPGA event was in 2015 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. While up four on Lincicome, Korda has her work cut out for her on the weekend as several prominent names linger on the leader board, including Minjee Lee, who is five strokes back in third place, Lexi Thompson (six back in fourth), Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson and Moriya Jutanugarn (seven back, T-5).