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Nelly Korda, fresh off of a gold medal performance in Tokyo, managed to carry that momentum all the way to Scotland where she holds a share of the early lead with Madelene Sagstrom at the AIG Women’s British Open.
Korda carded eight birdies, including on the difficult finishing holes, en route to a 5-under 67 at famed Carnoustie, where the women are playing for just the second time.
“The wind kept calm, and I took advantage of it,” Korda said.
With the last nine majors having been won by first-time major winners, Korda, 23, looks to put a stamp of dominance on the LPGA by claiming her second of the year. She took command of the KPMG Women’s PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club, winning by three, to climb to World No. 1 for the first time. She has won three times on tour this season, along with winning Olympic gold.
Nelly Korda bites her gold medal of the women’s golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan. (Photo by Andy Wong/Associated Press)
Like many players, it took some time for Korda to feel confident with links golf. She missed the cut in 2017 at Kingsbarns in her maiden British Open appearance and then tied for 14th at Royal Troon last year. On Wednesday at Carnoustie, Korda said a brief conversation with former Women’s British Open winner Karen Stupples helped solidify her strategy to do what it took to avoid Carnoustie’s penalizing bunkers.
“Today it was fine, because it wasn’t so windy, so you can be aggressive,” said Korda. “But when the wind gets obviously stronger, just taking that 4-iron and giving yourself, I don’t know another 4-iron in, because it’s easier to make an up-and-down from the greens than to pitch out from the bunker and then having 170 in and again.”
Korda admitted to being tired after a whirlwind six weeks on the road and said she’d be happy to have one week at home in her own bed before the Solheim Cup.
“You strive to be in this position,” she said, “but you kind of know that you have a target on your back.”
To that end, Korda said she’s trying go about her business on the golf course “like a little girl,” enjoying herself in the chilly Scottish temps.
Korda, who last competed at the Olympics and had last week off, didn’t meet with media for a pre-tournament press conference. After Round 1, she was asked if that was a psychological decision.
“No, I’ve had a long couple of weeks,” she said, “it was the day of my pro-am. And I was just really tired. So I tried to just, I wasn’t really hitting well. I tried to just go to the range and try to prepare for the next four days. Sometimes you just got to give your body a break.”