‘I’m human’: Nelly Korda shoots septuple-bogey on par-three in nightmarish US Women’s Open start

After months of otherworldly form, Nelly Korda proved she is human after all following a horrific start to the 79th US Women’s Open on Thursday.

Chasing a seventh win in eight appearances, the world No. 1 teed off at Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Country Club as the consensus tournament favorite but toiled to an opening round 10-over 80 to leave herself 12 shots off Japanese leader Yuka Saso following the first day.

Having opened with a bogey, Korda – who began at the 10th hole – found the water three times en route to a septuple-bogey at the par-three 12th. The American finally cleared the creek guarding the green with her eighth shot, only to two-putt for a total of 10 strokes on the 161-yard hole.

“I just didn’t really want to shoot 80, and I just kept making bogeys,” Korda told reporters.

“I’m human. I’m going to have bad days. I played some really solid golf up to this point. Today was just a bad day. That’s all I can say.”

Three birdies helped Korda go even-par through her closing nine holes, but the 25-year-old now faces an uphill battle to make it to the weekend, let alone lift a third major crown.

“Not a lot of positive thoughts, honestly,” Korda, who won the Chevron Championship last month, added.

“I didn’t hit it good. I found myself in the rough a lot. Making a 10 on a par-3 will definitely not do you any good at a US Open.”

Korda tees off on the 18th hole during the first round. - Matt Slocum/AP
Korda tees off on the 18th hole during the first round. - Matt Slocum/AP

‘The conditions are very tough’

Just four players shot below par amid a blustery first round, with 22-year-old Saso’s two-under 68 enough to top the leaderboard by a shot ahead of American Andrea Lee, Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai and French amateur Adela Cernousek.

World No. 30 Saso is chasing her second US Women’s Open title after playoff triumph at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, in 2021.

“I don’t think I’ll change anything. There’s so much golf left,” Saso told reporters.

“Like I said earlier, the golf course is very difficult and the conditions are very tough, especially with the wind swirling and when it’s blowing 15 miles per hour with the firm greens and fast greens.

“I think just stay focused and trust the process that I’ve been doing and just have fun out there.”

Saso coped best amid grueling first round conditions. - Matt Rourke/AP
Saso coped best amid grueling first round conditions. - Matt Rourke/AP

Breakthrough star Rose Zhang, the only player to beat Korda since her prolific run began in January, faired only one stroke better than her compatriot, shooting 79.

The 20-year-old bested Korda at the Cognizant Classic to claim her second LPGA Tour crown earlier this month but similarly struggled, carding eight bogeys and a double-bogey at the par-five seventh.

Friday’s second round is set to begin at 6:45 a.m. ET (11:45 a.m. BST), with Korda scheduled to tee off among the later groups at 1:58 p.m. ET (6:58 p.m. BST).

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