Jessica Korda is only 20 and already one of the best players in the world, but it has not stopped her from rebuilding her swing.
The American, who won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open two years ago at Royal Melbourne to announce herself as a world class player, has undergone a transformation of her game under new coach Grant Price, the nephew of champion male golfer Nick Price.
The capacity for golfers to tinker knows no bounds, of course, but in Korda's case, it was about prevention of injury, specifically a nagging left wrist problem that threatened her career. The changes are about shallowing her swing plane to reduce the impact on her hands and arms.
"I was very steep coming towards the ball and my hands were dropping behind me, which was putting a lot of pressure on my wrists and on my shoulders especially coming into different types of grasses,'' she said today. "It was really tough on my body and we're just changing the wing plane and making my posture better, change my grip. So I mean there was basically just strip the whole game and build it back up from Ground Zero.''
As the world No. 23, Korda is among a cluster of fine young American players pushing up the rankings, having won in the Bahamas at the start of the year. The group has been joined in the past week by Cheyenne Woods, who triumphed at Royal Pines, and that pleased her, since she knows what it feels like to carry a famous surname (Korda's father Petr was a longtime touring tennis professional who won the Australian Open in 1998).
"I've never actually played golf with Cheyenne, I only know her kind of courteously saying hello and stuff like that. It's good. It was very weird to see the name Woods on top of a leader board at a women's tournament, but it was nice. It's good for her because I know what it's like to kind of have a big last name and for her to not let it define her was awesome.''
Korda has adopted Melbourne as a second home, having travelled here many times at this time of year when she was an infant, as her father came to the Australian Open. Last year when there was a gap in her schedule she came to visit friends and played Royal Melbourne, Metropolitan and Victoria, three of the jewels of the famous sandbelt. "I've basically been coming over to Australia since I was a baby so definitely a place I love visiting. I do feel a little bit like home, I kind of know my way around and just the people are so welcoming so it's hard not to feel like I'm at home.''
She will be one of the favorites this week after her win in the Bahamas, and being in contention at Royal Pines last week. Her win at Royal Melbourne's composite course two years ago was proof that she can adapt to the links-style golf that will be in evidence this week.
"I mean, the good thing about here is that even if you can't stop it on the green, you can still kind of run it up there, run it close or definitely having good yardages this week is going to be very important and picking the right clubs and the right shots. Sometimes you're going to have to take a lower trajectory and run it in there. Sometimes you're going to try and hit it high into the wind and kind of stop it on the green. Honestly, it really just depends on the weather, how tough the golf course is going to play.''