Nelly and Jessica Korda both turned in 2-under 69s on Thursday at the U.S. Women’s Open, heading into the second round with a share of seventh with five other players. This week, the Korda sisters are playing in their fifth U.S. Women’s Open together (2013, 2016-2018).
“I didn’t think I would birdie [No. 11] at all this week,” said Nelly, who carded seven birdies against five bogeys in the first round. “It was definitely a roller coaster out there today. I was hitting it quite solid. I was flying it really far and I guess that’s how some of the bogeys happened because it was just unexpected how far I was hitting it.”
With the Korda sisters teeing off in opposite waves (Nelly was off at 8:17 a.m. while Jessica teed off at 1:51 p.m.), they were both joined by their parents, Petr and Regina, who walked 36 holes around a steamy Country Club of Charleston to support both of their daughters.
“We’ve always been opposites,” said Jessica, who carded three birdies and a bogey en route to her first-round 69. “Even regular LPGA events, we’re always opposites. So [my parents] walk 36 every time they come out. That’s a long walk.”
ESTHER HENSELEIT MAKES IMPRESSIVE START IN CHARLESTON
Ladies European Tour rookie Esther Henseleit turned in a first-round 66 on Thursday and sits just one stroke off the lead held by Mamiko Higa. Henseleit, a 20-year-old from Varel, Germany, is playing for just the second time on U.S. soil, having competed at the 2017 PING Junior Solheim Cup in Des Moines, Iowa. After carding a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Thursday, Henseleit is making an early mark at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s a completely new experience for me to play here, and the grandstands are huge and very many people around, but I don’t feel like that it’s too much for me,” said Henseleit, who is making the first major appearance of her career. “I really like that. I really like to play in front of many people.”
Henseleit was the first alternate from the England sectional qualifying site, falling in a playoff to Hayley Davis. Almost a week later, she received a call that she had been added to the major field. And now, she improbably finds herself in early contention for major glory.
“I never imagined sitting here and doing this well,” said Henseleit. “I don’t feel any pressure because the field is so good, and I just want to do my best and continue my good play from the last week.”
NO. 11 WREAKING HAVOC AT CCC
It’s safe to say that Ben Hogan was not a great fan of the Country Club of Charleston’s famed No. 11. When asked his thoughts on the reverse Redan, he said, “what you need for that 11th hole is about five sticks of dynamite.” This week’s U.S. Women’s Open competitors might agree with the 64-time PGA Tour winner, as the vaunted hole has been the topic of much discussion and trepidation.
The hole certainly lived up to its reputation in Thursday’s first round, though a few players enjoyed success there. Jeongeun Lee hit a beautiful shot that rolled to just a foot shy of the hole, leading to a tap-in birdie. It was one of just 10 birdies on the day at No. 11, which also yielded 66 bogeys and nine double bogeys. It was the toughest hole on the course at 3.4744, nearly half a stroke over par.
Rolex Rankings No. 49 Mamiko Higa (65)
- Higa’s first-round 65 is the best round she has returned at an LPGA Tour event; she previously shot three 66s, most recently in the first round of the 2018 AIG Women’s British Open, where she ultimately finished tied for fourth
- Her 65 is tied for the third-lowest opening round in U.S. Women’s Open history; Helen Alfredsson shot a 63 in 1994 (the lowest round in championship history), while two players have returned 64s, most recently Mirim Lee at the 2016 championship
- She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 27 putts
- Higa is playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open
- This is Higa’s 12th LPGA start; she has top-10 finishes at the 2013 AIG Women’s British Open (T7), the 2013 Mizuno Classic (T3), the 2017 TOTO Japan Classic (T5) and the 2018 AIG Women’s British Open (T4)
- Higa is a full-time member of the JLPGA; she has five victories on that tour, including the 2019 Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament
- Higa is trying to become the second Japanese player to win a women’s major championship, joining Chako Higuchi, who won the 1977 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Rolex Rankings No. 236 Esther Henseleit (66)
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
- Henseleit is playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open; it is also her first LPGA event and first major appearance
- Henseleit is a full-time member of the Ladies European Tour, where she is in her rookie year; she has competed in eight LET events this year and has six top-10 finishes, with a best showing of second in the last two events, the La Reserva de Sotogrande and the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic
World Amateur Golf Rankings No. 50 Gina Kim (66)
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 27 putts
- Kim is playing in her second U.S. Women’s Open; she missed the cut in 2018
- Kim is a rising sophomore at Duke University; she is part of the Duke women’s golf team that last week won the NCAA National Championship title
- She was a semifinalist at the 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and competed in the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur
ROLEX WOMEN’S WORLD GOLF RANKINGS PROJECTIONS
The top 24 Rolex Ranking players are in the field this week at the U.S. Women’s Open, and four of them have a mathematical chance to overtake Rolex Rankings World No. 1 Jin Young Ko (T43 after first round):
No. 2 Minjee Lee (T25 after first round)
- Win and have Jin Young Ko finish solo third or worse
- Solo second and have Jin Young Ko finish solo 19th or worse, Sung Hyun Park finish solo third or worse and Inbee Park does not win
No. 3 Sung Hyun Park (T25 after first round)
- Win and have Jin Young Ko finish solo third or worse
- Solo second and have Jin Young Ko finish solo 45th or worse, Minjee Lee finish solo third or worse, and Nasa Hataoka or Inbee Park do not win
No. 5 Nasa Hataoka (T43 after first round)
- Must win and have Jin Young Ko finish solo 23rd or worse and Minjee Lee finish solo third or worse
No. 7 Inbee Park (T14 after first round)
- Must win and have Jin Young Ko finish solo eighth or worse
There may be additional possibilities with tie scenarios and separate projection scenarios would be run to check.