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June 23, 2021

Korda Sisters’ 2021 Success & WHOOP Data Behind It

Sisters Jess Korda and Nelly Korda have 4 wins and an additional 5 top-three finishes between them in 2021 so far. See the heart rate, HRV, sleep and recovery data from their biggest moments on the golf course.

By Mark Van Deusen

UPDATE: Nelly Korda earned the first major victory of her career at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 24-27), her second consecutive win on the LPGA Tour propelling her to the No. 1 world ranking. Her title was fueled by a spectacular second round in which she shot 9 strokes under par. The night before, Nelly slept for 9:18 and woke up with a green 80% WHOOP recovery. She was then able to sleep more than 8 hours each of the next two nights as well (with 95% sleep efficiency, meaning good sleep without the option of spending tons of time in bed) as she put up back-to-back rounds of -4 to win the championship at -19.

 

On the morning of Thursday, June 17, the first day of the Meijer LPGA Classic, Nelly Korda awoke having slept for 9 hours and 51 minutes. Her WHOOP recovery, a measure of how prepared the body is to perform each day, was 94%. She’d also gotten an impressive 2:58 minutes of REM sleep, which is when the brain restores itself and is highly beneficial for athletes honing their technical skills prior to competing. Along with the 9:23 she slept the previous night (easily meeting 100% of her sleep need), Nelly was primed to be at the top of her game.

That weekend, Nelly shot 25 under par (including a career best -10 on Saturday after another green recovery) to capture the tournament title and become the first two-time winner on the LPGA Tour in 2021.

 

Prioritizing Rest

“I really focused on prioritizing my rest heading into this tournament,” Nelly said. “WHOOP tells me how much sleep I need based on everything I do throughout the day and I listen to that closely to make sure I’m at peak performance for competition. I woke up seeing high recovery scores and feeling great, which helped give me more confidence that I could play my best.”

Nelly Korda recovery and sleep

Nelly Korda got aN excellent night’s sleep with a 94% WHOOP recovery on Day 1 of her recent tournament victory.

Nelly and her sister Jess are two of the top 15 ranked women’s golfers on the planet. They’ve each had great success in 2021 so far, and their WHOOP data helps explain why.

 

Kicking Off 2021 with a Bang–and Elevated HRV

Jess and Nelly were back-to-back champions to start the 2021 LPGA season. The first tournament on the calendar was in Orlando, FL beginning on January 21.

On Day 1, Jess had an 88% recovery and a phenomenal HRV of 210 milliseconds, well above her baseline average of 143 (HRV stands for heart rate variability, an extremely useful metric when it comes to physical fitness). Her resting heart rate was also trending downwards, another great sign, hitting a two-week low of 43 beats per minute:

Jess Korda resting heart rate

Jess Korda’s resting heart was trending in the right direction in the weeks prior to winning the first LPGA event of the year.

Jess finished tied for first with a 25-under-par 260, then won in a playoff. She had a spectacular third day of play, shooting -11 on Saturday. The night before she managed to get 8:34 of sleep, a stellar amount for in the midst of a tournament.

In order to gauge their impact on her sleep and recovery, Jess often logs things like taking magnesium or getting massages in the WHOOP Journal. She spoke about this on an episode of the WHOOP Podcast:

“It’s interesting to see the results of what you put into your body. These are results that you can’t physically see, but you can see them thanks to WHOOP.”

The second LPGA event of the year was also in Florida, February 25-28 in Boca Raton. Coming off a third-place showing in Orlando, Nelly posted a 16-under 272 to capture the title. Amazingly, her recovery actually increased each day as the tournament progressed, from just 30% on Day 1, to 64% on Day 2, then to 75% and 77% on Days 3 and 4. You can see a similar trend in her HRV:

nelly korda whoop hrv

Nelly Korda’s heart rate variability increased each day during her tourney win in February.

Travel Can Takes its Toll

When Jess and Nelly joined our podcast, they discussed the significant effect travel and changing time zones can have on performance. Both sisters played in Anaheim, CA on April 1-4. However, Nelly had already competed on the west coast in Carlsbad, CA a week earlier. It’s quite possible that recent cross-country travel negatively impacted Jess’ play in Anaheim, and extra time to adjust benefited Nelly.

Jess ended that weekend tied for 36th, while Nelly was 3rd. On Day 2 of the tournament Nelly’s recovery was green at 73%, but Jess’ was just 46%. Jess also had a string of 5 straight yellow recoveries leading up to the event. She was back in the green at 86% on Saturday and played well (-4), but was already in a deep hole at +1 through the first two days.

 

Elite Recovery and Quality Sleep

In April, the Korda sisters put up back-to-back 2nd-place finishes in consecutive weeks. Nelly shot -21 to tie for second in Hawaii on April 14-17. She had an outstanding third day at 9 under par, and her recovery that morning was 98%.

The following week in Los Angeles, Jess placed second at 15 under par. Her result was likely aided by multiple nights of high-quality sleep. She slept for 10:09 the night before the tourney began, with 31% of that in REM (20-25% is normal). Although she was only able to get 7:27 of sleep the next evening, she again spent 31% of it in REM.

Jess shot -7 and -6 on those first two days of the tournament.

Heading into Day 3, Jess spent 7:51 in bed and 7:33 of that asleep, good for an exemplary 96% sleep efficiency. That night she also managed to up her REM to 40% of her total sleep time:

jess korda sleep stages

Jess Korda got a fantastic amount of REM sleep during a second-place finish in April.

What Lies Ahead?

With the Women’s PGA Championship getting underway this weekend, you’ll be able to see glimpses of the Korda sisters’ real-time heart rate data on TV via WHOOP Live, as it is integrated into an LPGA broadcast for the first time.

 

Join WHOOP for $30 off with the Korda’s discount.

 

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Mark Van Deusen

Mark Van Deusen is the Content Manager at WHOOP. Before joining WHOOP, Mark served as the Managing Editor and Head Writer for CelticsLife.com. He was also a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a contributor at Yahoo Sports. A former tennis coach, Mark graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Sociology and Leadership Studies.

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