Jessica Korda looks different than she did in 2017, one of the results of a jaw surgery she had in her off-season from the LPGA.
However, while Korda's smile looks markedly different than what fans have come to know in her pro career, nothing about her great golf game has changed. Hell, maybe it's gotten better.
Korda won the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand on Feb. 25 in her first start back from the surgery. She won by four shots over Lexi Thompson, shooting a career-best 62 in Round 2 en route to a tournament record total of 25 under par to grab her fifth LPGA title.
Making her accomplishment post-surgery and post-layoff all the more impressive is Korda is still experiencing numbness in her face from the double procedure and still has 27 screws in her face. The screws hold her face together, and she still has to be very conscientious of her eating so she doesn't miss and accidentally stab herself with her utensils. Speaking is still somewhat of a challenge.
So what precipitated the surgery? The 24-year-old, according to Golfweek, had been dealing with pain in her face that caused a variety of lifestyle problems. In November 2017, Korda experienced cramping in her face which made it difficult to see. The cramp lingered through the end of the season, and Korda decided to do something about it.
The surgery was required to correct massive overbite, which limited her ability to chew food and partially caused her to develop sleep apnea. It was ruining her life.
The December procedure took several hours as surgeons broke her nose, her upper jaw in three places and bottom jaw in two places. Korda's mom had to feed her for a while with a syringe, while a towel was there to catch drool. By early February, Korda had recovered well enough to practice again. She felt up to playing and making her comeback at the Thailand event, though the recovery time is closer to 6 months, or even longer.
Jessica Korda now looks more like her younger sister, Nelly, who was in contention into the weekend at the event. She doesn't feel familiar with her pre- or post-surgery look, but that might all come with time. In the interim, Korda is again a winner on the LPGA and is definitely still evolving as a player as her recovery continues.
"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," said Korda, who turns 25 on Feb. 27, in Thailand after her win. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."