What is it that makes the difference in a winning golf game? Is it the long drives that put you on the green a stroke earlier? Or is it the putts that put you in the hole more accurately? For 8-season veteran of the LPGA Jessica Korda, it was the putts that seemed to make the difference–and she wasn’t making them. And, it turns out, the problem was likely her jaw pain.
Crippling Facial Spasms
Last year, Korda had four top-10 finishes. She was able to tie for second. But she was not able to win a single title.
Part of the cause may have been a severe jaw problem that had plagued her with headaches for years, but grew acute over the season last year. At her last match of the season, the CME Group Tour Championship, she was experiencing painful facial spasms that partially closed her right eye.
Korda had an extreme overbite which dentists had tried to correct with braces and with overnight appliances, but the results weren’t enough to stop her problems. She needed jaw surgery.
So she had surgery in December. The surgery took three hours, and she spent weeks recovering as her mom fed her with a syringe.
A Promising Comeback
The jaw surgery turned out to be just what she needed to get back her game. Although doctors caution it may take six months or more before she is back to normal, she played her first tournament in February, winning the Honda LPGA Thailand. In her first return, she was able to do what she couldn’t do all last season. Not only that, but she shot a career-best round at 62. With just three starts in the season, she’s achieved two top-10 places.
Hopefully, healing will continue for Korda, and hopefully she will continue on her streak of improved play.
Is Your Jaw Affecting Your Game?
A disfiguring and crippling jaw condition like Korda’s is relatively rare. However, what’s not rare is more minor forms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD), which can impact you with similar symptoms. You may experience headaches and face pain, which may include painful spasms. And you may find that the condition affects your golf game–especially your short game–because it makes it hard to maintain balance and precise control over your movements.
Often, the condition can be treated nonsurgically, especially if it’s detected and treated early. Bite splints can be very effective for early TMJ.