Nelly Korda makes an early move, Aditi Ashok makes a measured start

The AIG Women's Open got off to a blistering start under calm winds as Nelly Korda and Madelene Sagstrom made the most of friendly conditions. Both women shot 67. Aditi Ashok was 1-over through nine holes, with a birdie and two bogeys.

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Aditi Ashok - Getty Images - AIGWO

19 August 2021: In-form Nelly Korda credited a positive attitude as the key behind a strong opening round at the 2021 AIG Women’s Open which cemented the world no.1 among the early contenders at Carnoustie. Korda and Madelene Sagstrom came through the morning groups to throw down the gauntlet with a five-under 67, early in the opening round.

Aditi Ashok began with a birdie on the first hole, but bogeys at six and seven dropped her to 1-over midway through her opening round. But she recovered well from there, producing three birdies in five holes from the tenth to score a three shot swing to 2-under par.

Madelene Sagstrom - AIGWO
Madelene Sagstrom – AIGWO

The finishing stretch at Carnoustie can be treacherous. Aditi did well to navigate most of it without incident, shooting three straight pars to keep a tight rein on her card.

The 18th, considered one of the toughest finishing holes around the world, acquires additional teeth every time a major is played at Carnoustie. Aditi found the pot bunkers to the right on her way to the green, and from where she was in the sand, bogey felt like a decent rescue. Aditi is lying T22 with 22 other golfers, as several of them bunched together on the leaderboard at 71.

Sei Young Kim secured a share of the lead with a 67 on her card. The Korean was 6-under through 14 holes, but a bogey at the 15th dropped her into a tie with Korda and Sagstrom. Amateur Louise Duncan shot an impressive 68 containing four birdies and an eagle on the 14th to be tied in fourth with four other golfers.

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AIG Women’s Open Release – Nelly Korda chases second major

Nelly Korda - AIGWO
Nelly Korda – AIGWO

The newly-crowned Olympic champion arrived in Scotland hoping to win her second major of the year following her success at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June and carded a five-under 67 to take an early share of the clubhouse lead.

Korda did not have it all her own way and recorded three bogeys but bounced back with a birdie on each occasion, showing an ability to quickly move on from disappointment which the American feels is essential when negotiating Carnoustie’s unique challenges.

“I played well,” she said. “I took advantage of the calmer day and I’m happy with the score I have.

“I could take advantage [of calmer conditions] and be more aggressive. It’s good to have a caddy that keeps it positive out there and reminds you there is plenty of golf yet.

“You have to enjoy it here. You never know what kind of weather you’ll get, a good shot will take a massive bounce into the bunker, you’re going to get a fried egg like I did on one of the holes.

“You have to laugh it off. Everyone will go through it at some point this week and a good positive attitude will take you a long way.”

The American had braced herself for contrasting weather to that which she experienced en route to gold in Tokyo but may not have quite prepared for the misty, chilly morning that lay in wait as the Championship got underway.

It meant conditions were markedly different to those on the practice days at Carnoustie, let alone in the Japanese capital, but Korda adapted seamlessly and saved her best until last with successive birdies at 17 and 18.

“I cut it a little close on 17,” she said, reflecting on a tee shot which almost found the water hazard.

“I was a little nervous coming off that tee box but I hit a really good 6-iron to six feet [from the hole].

“The next hole I hit a really solid drive, which is really important on that 18th to make sure that it doesn’t drift out right into the bunkers.

“I hit two really good shots, and I gave myself another look for birdie.

“It’s the coldest I’ve played in this year and it’s a bit of an adjustment from Tokyo, where I was growing a sweat ‘tache!

“You never know what weather you’ll get in Britain but if you can take advantage of a calmer day, it’s a good stepping stone for the next few days.”