CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) – Two weeks after winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, top-ranked Nelly Korda began her bid for a second major title by shooting 5-under 67 in the first round to share the clubhouse lead at the Women’s British Open on Thursday.
Korda rolled in a 5-foot putt at No. 18 for her eighth birdie of a round that also contained three bogeys in overcast, chilly but largely wind-free conditions over the links at Carnoustie.
She was tied for the lead with Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, who drove into a bunker at the last and missed a 10-footer for par.
The 23-year-old Korda is the new star of women’s golf, having climbed to No. 1 by winning the PGA Championship in June and following that up by winning the Olympic golf tournament in Tokyo this month. The American has four wins in 14 events in 2021 and said she has a “target on my back” in Scotland for the last of the five majors.
“You kind of strive to be in this position, so it feels good,” she said.
The Women’s Open is her first event since the Olympics and she picked up where she left off, holing a left-to-right 20-footer for birdie at No. 3 – the first of three birdies in a four-hole span to immediately throw down the challenge to her rivals.
Korda, who wore bulky, oven-style mitts between shots at times during the morning, rebounded from her second bogey of the day, at No. 12, by making a downhill putt for birdie at the next and picked up another shot at the par-5 14th after reaching the green in two.
She finished birdie-birdie by hitting her approach close at No. 18 with an 8-iron from the center of the fairway.
“Very happy,” Korda said of her start. “Honestly, we didn’t have much wind today. It was very chilly in the morning – that was the only thing against us. Other than that, the wind kept calm and I took advantage of it.”
Korda has been on the road for six weeks, because of her appearances at the Evian Championship in France – the fourth major of the year, where she placed 19th – and then the Olympics, where she had a one-shot victory.
“A little tired but I am going to give it my all these next three day, go home next week, and have one week at home. Sleep in my bed for the first time in six weeks – that will be nice,” she said. “And then Solheim and we start up again.”
The 77th-ranked Sagstrom, playing in a group just behind Korda, birdied four of her first six holes and twice held a two-shot lead on her back nine.
She kept her round going with some decisive par putts but couldn’t do so at No. 18 after finding a bunker to the right of the fairway off the tee. She hit out to leave herself a tough up-and-down for par, but leaked her par putt right.
Sagstrom has yet to record a top-10 finish in a major.
The only player in the clubhouse within three strokes of the joint leaders was Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, who shot 70.
Andrea Lee reached the turn in 31 at 5 under after five birdies in her first eight holes.