Nelly on course for Major milestone

Nelly on course for Major milestone

LOS ANGELES • Ten days after rooting for her brother to make a Grand Slam breakthrough, Nelly Korda is on course for a Major milestone of her own.

She closed with a five-foot birdie putt to fire a six-under 66 and seize a one-stroke lead after Thursday’s opening round of the ANA Inspiration. The 22-year-old American went one stroke under her previous best round at Mission Hills Country Club in California.

She credited her success in the second Major of a Covid-19 disrupted season to more putting work and her family.

Her father Petr, the 1998 Australian Open champion, and her mother provided much support, just as they did for her brother Sebastian when they were in New York to watch him make his US Open debut, though he lost in the first round to Denis Shapovalov. Korda caught the tennis match on TV.

“It’s really nice actually,” she said of her parents’ presence.

“It’s nice to get some clapping occasionally. Yeah, they’re definitely our biggest fans, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them, so it’s super nice.”

Her elder sister Jessica, also seeking a first Major title, shot a 74.

The younger Korda opened with birdies at the first and third holes before taking her lone bogey at the fourth. She birdied the seventh, the par-five ninth and par-five 11th as well before closing with birdies at the 16th and par-five 18th.

South Korean Chun In-gee, whose Major titles include the 2015 US Women’s Open and 2016 Evian Championship, and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, whose only win came in January at Boca Rio, were second on 67.

Korda, whose best showing here is a share of 13th, said hot summer desert conditions had made the course different from its usual April set-up but no less formidable.

“It’s very firm out here. Very different,” said the world No. 3. “It’s like a different monster actually.”

A pack on 68 included Malaysia’s Kelly Tan, American Danielle Kang, Canada’s Brooke Henderson and China’s Liu Yu.

World No. 2 Kang, who won the LPGA’s first two return events last month, closed with a birdie.

“It’s more so just having the confidence in my golf game, having the belief I can pull off the shots,” she said. “I made some good putts.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ANA INSPIRATION

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