Tennis player Petr Korda is Caddy Dad at Women's Open
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When he was among the world's top tennis pros, winning the 1998 Australian Open and upsetting reigning champion Pete Sampras midway through the 1997 U.S. Open, Petr Korda would punctuate a triumphant stroke with his Pete Townshend celebratory hop, an exuberant scissors kick that mimicked the rock star.
Thursday the 45-year-old, caddying at the U.S. Women's Open for his younger daughter Nelly, celebrated her birdie putt on the final hole with a subtle little fist pump after she completed a solid 1-over-par 73.
"If I did that," Petr Korda said of the old leap for joy, "you'd have to call 911, and I'd have to have surgery on my lower back."
The 14-year-old Nelly, one of 19 amateurs in the 156-player field, wondered aloud why she had not felt the least bit rattled upon teeing off in her first senior championship.
"It was weird," she said through braces. "I was, like, how am I not nervous? I hit really good, and it was, like, 'Let's go.' "
Perhaps her comfort came from attending all five of 20-year-old sister Jessica's five previous U.S. Opens. Or maybe it was the presence of "Caddie Daddy," as Petr referred to his morning role at Sebonack.
By afternoon, Petr was touring Sebonack again, sticking to the daddy capacity in following pro Jessica's 2-under 70, worth at least another fist pump.
"He calms me down," Nelly said of her father. "When I start walking a little fast, he's like, 'Slow down a little.' But when I make a birdie, he's like, 'Let's go. Next hole.' "
After taking a triple-bogey on the seventh -- she had started on No. 10, so that was her 16th hole on the hazy, muggy morning -- "Me and my dad were like, 'Let's forget this hole and just move on and start fresh.' "
So she immediately birdied the last two. She is seven strokes off the lead.
Petr and his wife, both Czech natives and former tennis pros, settled in Florida, where they have raised their athletic children. Nelly dabbled in tennis "when I was little," she said, but found her serve to be "not very good."
She has gone head-to-head with Petr in golf, though not lately, because of his bad back. "He goes for it," she said of her father's game. "Sometimes he makes an eagle and I'm like, 'Really?' "
Which would serve as an apt description of the Korda family's day.