BETHESDA, MD. – Just a year ago, Nelly Korda won the PGA Women’s Championship, earning her first major and reaching No. 1 in the world.

“It feels like an eternity ago, honestly,” she said.

A lot has happened – good and bad – since then for Korda. She also won an Olympic gold medal last year for the United States, but suffered a four-month layoff this year due to health issues and only recently returned. This week, she’s defending her Women’s PGA title at Congressional Country Club — she looks ready to fight after a near-victory in Michigan last week.

“I gave myself a chance last week,” she said. “If you had told me that when I was lying in the emergency room, I would certainly have been very happy.”

Korda’s season was cut short when she felt swelling in her left arm – a blood clot in the subclavian vein. She missed the first major of the year in the California desert and had surgery in April.

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It’s unusual for her to take so long, but she’s been in good shape since her return. She tied for eighth at the US Women’s Open, then lost in the playoffs at the LPGA Meijer Classic last weekend.

“It was the longest time I think I’ve ever gone without hitting a golf ball,” Korda said. “Since I started knocking, it was just kind of full throttle, and I’ve been training a lot. I haven’t taken more than two or three days off since. I’m just happy to be here to play competitive golf.

Korda says it was important to stay positive after her health issues.

“I feel like the more you enjoy it, the better you play, the less you get ticked off, the less things go wrong, I guess, in a way,” she said. “Since I’ve been back, I’ve made sure I have a good attitude and enjoy every second of it, and I think that’s contributed to my good game.”

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This week’s tournament, sponsored by KPMG, doubles the size of its purse to $9 million, with the winner receiving $1.35 million. The 6,894-yard, par-72 Congress course could be softened for the first round. Thunder ripped through the area on Wednesday, with more rain likely overnight.

“I think KPMG and the PGA have just done a phenomenal job of getting us to these incredible golf courses and really raising the bar for women’s golf,” said Brooke Henderson. “Very grateful for that. I’ve said it a bunch, but I’m just super excited to play here at this amazing golf course.

Weather permitting, Korda is expected to play Thursday morning with Henderson and Inbee Park. This group has combined to win this event five times. Park won three consecutive titles from 2013 to 2015 before Henderson ended that streak with his own victory in 2016.

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Korda enters this tournament at world No. 2 behind Jin Young Ko of South Korea. Minjee Lee of Australia is third, having won the most recent major at the US Women’s Open.

Jennifer Kupcho, who won the Chevron Grand Championship, also prevailed last week in Michigan.

“It’s definitely good confidence,” Kupcho said. “I think hitting the ball so well last week is really important. Especially when entering a major.

Korda also has reason to be confident. She was part of the three-way tie that forced the playoffs at Michigan. She looks healthy enough to compete in Congress – and mentally ready after last year’s victory at the Women’s PGA.

“I don’t think I’ve changed much in the last year. In a way, I think I’ve just become a bit more consistent and confident that I can win a major championship,” Korda said. “I think I just learned to get by in Major Championship week and not put too much pressure on myself and enjoy every moment of it too because a lot of people put so much emphasis on Major Championship weeks. . Maybe they put a little too much pressure on themselves when you end up playing with the same girls pretty much every week.

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