On a day that saw relatively tame weather conditions, the famed links at Carnoustie still presented a stern test to 144 of the world’s best female golfers. Three players rose to the top of the 2021 AIG Women’s Open leaderboard at -5, led by Rolex Rankings No. 1 and newly minted Olympic gold medalist Nelly Korda.
Korda carded eight birdies and three bogeys in Thursday’s round of 67, with birdies on Carnoustie’s notoriously difficult closing two holes to conclude her round. She came within a few feet of putting her tee shot at No. 17 in the Barry Burn that crosses the fairway, telling her caddie that she was sure it was in the water off the tee.
“I cut it a little close on 17 today, I was really close to that water, so I didn't really have much. I just had a 6-iron in. I don't know the exact yardage, but I hit it really well,” said Korda. “The last hole, I was between an 8- and a 7-iron into the wind, and I just told myself, since I was hitting it well, to stay aggressive, and I hit a little pin shot in to 8 feet.”
Korda is joined at -5 by 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA winner Sei Young Kim and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, who is fighting for a coveted spot on Team Europe for the 2021 Solheim Cup.
The leading trio is followed by four players in a tie for fourth at -4 – 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso, 2018 AIG Women’s Open winner Georgia Hall, 2020/21 LPGA Tour rookie Andrea Lee and 21-year-old Scottish amateur Louise Duncan. Solheim Cup veterans Carlota Ciganda, Lizette Salas and Lexi Thompson are tied for eighth at -3.
Hinako Shibuno, who took the title in 2019, is tied for 13th at -2. Defending AIG Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov opened with an even-par 72 and is tied for 42nd.