As clichés go, the one Nelly Korda threw out on Thursday has to be among the oldest in the game. “It's just the first day,” Korda said after a colorful 5-under par 67 in the first round of the AmazingCre Portland Classic. “Can't win it, but you can definitely lose it. So I just tried to stay pretty confident in what I was working on with my coach, Jamie Mulligan, the past week.”
Korda had some trouble with her driver. Even though she hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, the misses were big enough to cause some problems. She had two bogeys, a double bogey, an eagle and seven birdies, and had one of the best descriptions ever for the Ponderosa Pines that wall both sides of the fairways at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
“It's so tree lined here,” Korda said. “It's such a beautiful golf course. So many big, tall trees. They're very thick and they're very high. But they also start very thick, like they're very low.”
One errant tee shot can cost you in the Pacific Northwest, as Korda discovered. “When you miss a fairway it's hard to get through the trees,” she said. “Unfortunately, the couple of mistakes that I did have, I hit it out to the right into the trees and couldn't really get a good score.”
This is Korda’s first trip to the AmazingCre Portland Classic, although she played the Portland Golf Club as a 17-year-old in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Back then Korda shot 5-under and finished T3 in stroke play but lost in the first round of match play to Lydia Choi.
This week, she has a chance to regain the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings with a win. Jin Young Ko is out nursing a wrist injury and Minjee Lee is taking some much-needed time off before the closing stretch of the year. That leaves Korda in position to move back to No. 1 in the world.
It would be an amazing feat given that Korda took four months off early in the year because of a dangerous blood clot in her left arm. And even though she has yet to win in 2022, she has 6 top-10 finishes and, combining stats from the past two years, leads the LPGA Tour in scoring average, percentage of rounds played in the 60s, top-10 finish percentage, and percentage of holes birdied.
But, as always, the 24-year-old will not speculate about rankings, or awards, or statistics, or anything else beyond tomorrow’s opening tee shot.
“I don't know how it's going to play in the afternoon (tomorrow), just because it played so different today than it did the first three days that I was out here practicing,” Korda said of Columbia Edgewater. “So just adjusting and seeing how the balls react, if they're releasing on the fairways.
“The key out on the here is to hit fairways and hopefully have a good approach shot in.”