Nelly Korda Off to a Strong Start in Quest for Fifth Straight Win

On a course that got more difficult as the first round went on, the world No. 1 finished with a flourish.
Apr 18, 2024; The Woodlands, Texas, USA; Nelly Korda  (USA) walks up to the 17th tee during the
Apr 18, 2024; The Woodlands, Texas, USA; Nelly Korda (USA) walks up to the 17th tee during the / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Nelly Korda admitted being tired at the start of her first round at the Chevron Championship.

By the end, she looked like the player who has dominated the LPGA for weeks.

The world No. 1, on a four-event winning streak and seeking a fifth at the season’s first major, made four birdies in her last six holes to shoot 4-under 68 and sit in a three-way tie, two shots back of leader Lauren Coughlin. 

“I can definitely still feel maybe a little bit of tiredness, so it took me a while to get going,” Korda said. “I felt the nerves definitely at the start of the round. Once I made the turn, I was just playing free golf.”

That meant taking advantage of her length on the two front-side par-5s (her round began on No. 10), two-putting for birdies, with two more birdies at the par-4 6th and 9th.

Nelly Korda putts on the 18th green during the first round of the 2024 Chevron Championship.
Nelly Korda shot 68 in the tougher afternoon wave Thursday. / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The 68 left her in a tie with Marina Alex and Minami Katsu, two players who, like Coughlin, are on the early/late draw for the first two rounds. Only nine players broke 70 Thursday at the Club at Carlton Woods and only two of those played late Thursday—Korda and Gabriela Ruffels, who shot 69. 

“I know it's always luck of the draw in a sense, but I've had my fair share of late-early, early-late, and you've just got to make the most of it,” Korda said. “You can't really get too caught up in that … you’ve just got to go out there and perform.

Which is exactly what Korda has done all year. She won the LPGA Drive On Championship in Florida in late January, then after sitting out the Tour’s three-event Asian swing, won three times in three consecutive weeks in California, Arizona and Nevada. She finally got a break last week when the golf world was off except for the Masters. 

“I think those three weeks, I didn't think that it was going to drain me as much as it did maybe mentally,” Korda said. “I was dead when I got home. I just didn't even leave my house for the first two days.”

She turns right around Friday for her second round at 8:10 a.m.

Defending champ withdraws

There will be a new champion at Chevron as 2023 winner Lilia Vu withdrew before her tee time Thursday.

“I have been dealing with a back injury for a while now. Some days are better than others, and today was unfortunately not a good day,” the world No. 2 said in a statement. “During my normal warm-up routine, I had severe discomfort in my back and I felt that I could not compete up to my standards and made the decision to withdraw from the tournament ahead of my tee time. I am planning to return home to see my doctors immediately to determine the best appropriate next steps.”


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John Schwarb

JOHN SCHWARB

John Schwarb is the Senior Editor of SI Golf. He has covered golf for the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), PGATour.com and Visit Florida; and has also written for ESPN.com, The Golfers Journal and several magazines. He lives in Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University.