BRADENTON, Fla. — LPGA Tour winner Nanna Koerstz Madsen nearly had a clean card on day one of the LPGA Drive On Championship, firing a 5-under 66 that saw her make one bogey and six birdies to kick off her week at Bradenton Country Club.
The 29-year-old got off to a quick start with a birdie on her second hole of the day but gave that shot right back with a bogey on the par-4, 5th hole. The Dane then recorded back-to-back birdies on the par-3 7th and par-5 8th holes, parring the 9th hole to turn in 34. She made a par on No. 10 and birdied the par-3 11th hole to get to 3-under, recording another pair of birdies on holes 13 and 14 to move to 5-under overall. Koertz Madsen then parred her remaining four holes en route to posting a 66, her lowest 18-hole score since the first round of the Portland Classic last August.
“It was a good day. I played steady golf,” said Koerstz Madsen, who is making her second start of the 2024 season. “Missed a green here and there but made an up and down. My approach was just being a little patient out there because it was a grind. There was a lot of wind out there, so keep it on the high side of the hole. I was happy with the round.”
The 2022 Honda LPGA Thailand winner played last week at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, finishing in a tie for 12th after recording a four-day total of 4-under at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club. This is her fourth appearance in the LPGA Drive On Championship, and in her three previous starts, she has only finished in the top 15 once, tying for 15th in the 2022 edition of the event at Crown Colony Golf and Country Club.
The 2023 season was a bit of a struggle for Koerstz Madsen, who recorded just two top-12 results, tying for fourth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer and tying for 11th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course. She ultimately finished 68th in the Race to the CME Globe last year, eight spots away from automatically qualifying for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, and she failed to cross the $500,000 mark in season earnings, only making $445,722 in 2023.
While she grinded hard during the off-season, working on a few technical aspects of her swing, Koerstz Madsen very intentionally took some time away from the game after missing the cut at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, time that was critical for her mental health after what was a challenging 2023 season.
“It's kind of different from year to year what I need, but this year I really needed to put away the clubs,” said Koerstz Madsen. “I had a rough last year. Didn't feel like I was there mentally and stuff, so I think it mentally really helped me putting away the clubs for a little while and get a new perspective on things. I think I took almost a month off after Pelican last year. I needed that, to think about something else other than golf.”
And thus far – through the first two events of the 2024 season at least – that decision has proved to be a wise one. There’s still plenty of golf to play this week at Bradenton Country Club, but it’s always a good feeling to start a tournament strong, and Koerstz Madsen will be looking to build upon this early momentum as she turns the page to tomorrow’s second round in Bradenton, Fla.
“I feel like it's always great to get off to a good start,” said the Dane. “You never know what's going to happen. It's a long tournament. There are still 54 holes left. But it doesn't hurt having a good start. I'll take all the positive I can.”