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Nelly Korda opens Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee with 69

Jun 20, 2024, 4:17 PM

Nelly Korda Women's PGA Championship Sahalee...

Nelly Korda hits a tee shot at the 2024 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SAMMAMISH, Wash. (AP) — Nelly Korda birdied her final hole for a 3-under 69 to take the early lead in the first round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club on Thursday.

Leaderboard

Korda started on the back nine and the No. 1 player in the world made four birdies in her first five holes. But parts of the morning were a scramble for Korda as the Douglass fir, red cedar and hemlock trees of Sahalee played their role in making it a challenge. A double bogey on the par-4 fourth hole dropped her back to 2 under.

“If you try and be aggressive when you’ve hit it off line, it just bites you in the butt,” Korda said. “Overall I think I played pretty well. I took my chances where I could and I played safe the majority of the round.”

Korda dropped a 15-foot putt on the par-3 ninth hole to take a one-shot advantage.

Seven players were one shot back, including Allisen Corpuz, Celine Boutier, Charley Hull and Leona Maguire. Maguire led this tournament after the third round last year at Baltusrol, but shot 74 on the final day and finished four shots back of the winner, Ruoning Yin.

Playing with Korda, Yin rebounded from a rough start and shot 33 on her second nine to shoot 71.

“Luckily hit it pretty straight today. Hit a lot of fairways and greens. But it does feel like a course where once you’re out of position it’s tough to get back on track,” said Corpuz, who has an outside chance of making the Olympics for the United States with a strong finish this week.

The third major of the year on the LPGA Tour returned to Sahalee, which previously hosted in 2016.

And Korda got off to a far better start than her last major, when she shot 80 in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago.

Korda’s early run of birdies included three straight between Nos. 13-15 and she and went out in 33. She moved to 4 under after a birdie on the third hole — her 12th of the day — but dropped two shots on the fourth. Her tee shot on the 398-yard hole ended up tucked behind a tree and after pitching out, her third shot failed to clear a ridge and rolled back toward the front of the green.

Korda was able to scramble out of trouble a few times, including the par-5 second hole when she pulled a fairway wood into a cluster of trees left the green and salvaged par.

“This entire golf course is so demanding. I had to make some pretty good up-and-downs,” Korda said.

The afternoon wave included Lexi Thompson; Lilia Vu, who won last week in her return from a back injury; Brooke Henderson, the 2016 winner at Sahalee; and Yuka Saso, the U.S. Women’s Open winner.

Sahalee’s intimidating fairways greet Women’s PGA Championship field

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Nelly Korda opens Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee with 69