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World number one Nelly Korda continued her brilliant run of form with an opening 67 in the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.
The pre-tournament favourite and Olympic champion carded eight birdies and three bogeys to finish five under par and share the early clubhouse lead with Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom.
Korda is now a combined 87 under par for her last 21 rounds, a run which includes her first major title in the Women’s PGA Championship and Olympic gold in Tokyo earlier this month.
A brilliant round of 67 for world number one @NellyKorda in the first round!
— AIG Women’s Open (@AIGWomensOpen) August 19, 2021
“I’m very happy,” the 23-year-old American told Sky Sports. “Honestly we didn’t have much wind today.
“It was very chilly in the morning, that was the only thing against us today but the wind kept calm and I took advantage of it.
“I’m a little tired but I’m still going to give it my all these next three days. I’ll go home next week, have one week at home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in six weeks which will be nice and then Solheim (Cup), we start up again.
“It’s going to be quick but I’m trying to take my recovery as seriously as possible.”
Asked if she enjoyed being the pre-tournament favourite and focus of attention, Korda added: “You strive to be in this position so it feels good but you kind of know that you have a target on your back.
“I just try to take the positives and see how it goes.”
Sagstrom looked set to hold the outright lead when she posted her seventh birdie of the day on the 15th to move to six under, but bogeyed the 18th after an errant drive.
However, the 28-year-old will have impressed playing partner and Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, who will name her six wild cards on Monday after the six automatic qualifiers are decided on Sunday evening.
England’s Charley Hull is set to be among those qualifiers but started with a double bogey on the first and made another on the 17th in her 77, while Matthew was a shot worse off following a birdie-free 78.