CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Nelly KordaThe sensational summer form shows no sign of diving.
Two weeks after winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, top-ranked Korda began bidding on a second major title in two months by shooting 5-under 67 to take the lead in the British on Thursday Open for Women to share.
Korda rolls for an eight-pointer of a round in a 5-foot putt at number 18 at Carnoustie, which also contains three bogeys in cloudy, cold but largely windless conditions over the links in the east of Scotland. She was later joined at 5 bottom by Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, who has never achieved a top-10 in a major, and South Korea Sei Jong Kim, last year a great champion and the no. 4.
The 23-year-old Korda is the new superstar of women’s golf, having climbed to number 1 in June by winning the PGA Championship and followed it up by winning the Tokyo Golf Tournament this month. The American has four wins in 14 events in 2021 and said she has a ‘target on my back’ for the last of the five majors.
“I try to take the mindset of each day as a new day,” said Korda, who is a combined 87 under par for her last 21 laps. “It does not matter what my position is. Everyone goes prepared to this event and wants to win.
“It’s similar to the attitude I try to take on every occasion.”
The Women’s Open is her first event since the Olympics and she brought momentum to Carnoustie and caught up with a left-to-20-foot birdie at number 3 – the first of three birdies in a four-hole team that immediately dropped the challenge to her competitors.
Korda, who at times in cold morning conditions sometimes wore bulky, oven-style gloves between shots, returned from her second lathe of the day, at number 12, by making a downhill stroke for birdie at the next and picking up another holds on to the par-5 14th after reaching the green in two.
She concluded bird-by-bird by her approach near no. 18 to hit with an 8-iron from the center of the fairway.
“Very happy,” Korda began to say about her. “Honestly, we did not have much wind. It was very cold in the morning – that was the only thing against us. Other than that, the wind remained calm and I took advantage of it.”
Korda is on the road for six weeks due to her performance at the Evian Championships in France – the fourth major of the year, where she finished 19th – and then the Olympics, where she won by one stroke.
“A little tired, but I’m going to give it my all for the next three days, go home next week and have a week at home. Sleep in my bed for the first time in six weeks – that would be nice,” she said. “And then Solheim and we start again.”
Sagstrom, 77th, plays in a group with European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, just behind Korda, and will have left a positive impression before the nomination of the six game card selection on Monday.
She hit four of her first six holes and twice had a two-stroke lead on her back nine. She kept herself around with some decisive parks, but could not do so at number 18, after finding a bunker to the right of the fairway of the tee. She strikes out to leave herself a hard up-and-down par, but licks her par putt right.
“Of course I want to show her with my game, I can not deny it,” Sagstrom said of Matthew. “I mean, I’m playing well right now. Who knows where her mind is going now?”
Kim is at stake with another major, having won the PGA Championship for the first time last year. She also finished third at the ANA Inspiration in April.
Her only shot was on the par-4 15th, which she reached in the lead after making her birdie at number 14 to move down to 6th.
Georgia Hall of England, the 2018 champion, watched the last one fall out of the lead, and 4 down along with an unknown playmate in 21-year-old Scottish amateur Louise Duncan, who is going to Stirling University in Scotland.
“It was ridiculous fun, I did not expect it at all,” said Duncan, an eagle and four birds. “I was so nervous at first. I was shaking and could barely put the ball on the tee. To actually make contact and it go straight was a bonus.”