Jessica Korda leads M. Jutanugarn, sister Nelly at Hugel-Air Premia L.A. Open

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Golf Channel Digital
·3 min read
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Jessica Korda birdied three of her final four holes in the opening round to grab the lead at the Hugel-Air Premia L.A. Open.

Korda shot 7-under 64, one lower than Moriya Jutanugarn, who had an even more impressive finish on Wednesday, and Tiffany Chan. Nelly Korda, Austin Ernst, Carlota Ciganda, Sue Oh and Dana Finkelstein all shot 66.

Jutanugarn double bogeyed her second hole, bogeyed two of her next three and was 4 over par through her first five holes at Wilshire Country Club. She played her final 13 holes in 10 under for a 6-under 65.

Starting on the back nine, Jutanugarn birdied her final four holes before the turn and then shot 6-under 29 coming in.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open

“I mean, I don’t realize until I sign the scorecard I shot 29 on the backside today,” Jutnaugarn said. “It was pretty fun.”

This event, in 2018, is the site of Jutanugarn's lone LPGA Tour victory. Jessica Korda, meanwhile, is in search of win No. 2 on the year, having claimed the season-opening Tournament of Champions. The elder Korda sister had eight birdies and one bogey in Round 1, tying the course record.

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It was her first full 18 holes of the week. The 28-year-old said she took a "horrible red-eye" flight from Hawaii and, "was out for about two days, honestly. It was awful. I felt like I got hit by a train. Not great. Too old for red-eyes. That's another thing I learned."

She only got in nine practice holes but said that she and Nelly played the course between the ANA and last week's Lotte Championship.

The younger Korda wasn't quite as flawless on Wednesday, but was equally impressive. Nelly had six birdies, three bogeys and an eagle-2 at the par-4 16th.

"I had a pitching wedge in and I just hit it really good. Never left the flag," she said. "One-hopped and I guess it rolled in. Didn't even see it because that green is a bit undulated. So thankfully the group in front of us started clapping, so that was cool. I was like, Oh, cool."

Korda finally gets her putter going at LA Open

Nelly Korda and Ernst, like Jessica Korda, already have victories on their resumes this year. Nelly won the week after Big Sis at the Gainbridge LPGA. Ernst won LPGA Drive On Championship the week thereafter.

One week after breaking a three-year winless drought, Lydia Ko shot 7-over 78. She had one birdie, compared to four bogeys and two doubles. Patty Tavatanakit, playing alongside Ko and competing for the first time since winning the ANA Inspiration for her maiden LPGA title, shot 75.

Other notables include major champs Sophia Popov, Sei Young Kim, A Lim Kim and Jin Young Ko at 4 under. Former UCLA Bruin Alison Lee, who eagled the final hole of a Monday qualifier to get into the field, also shot 67. Inbee Park was a shot further back, following a 68. Michelle Wie West and Lexi Thompson shot 1-under 70s.

The 72-hole tournament concludes on Saturday. Rounds 2 and 3 can be seen on Golf Channel, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. Final-round coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET. Get an early start on the second and third rounds by clicking the links for live streams, starting each night at 6 p.m. ET.