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Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko tied for lead at 2024 LPGA Drive On Championship

2024 LPGA Drive On Championship

BRADENTON, Fla. ― Playing in her backyard seemed to agree with Nelly Korda.

Meanwhile, Lydia Ko picked up right where she left off.

Korda, 25, the world’s No. 4-ranked player, shook off a bogey on her first hole to post six birdies and an eagle the rest of the way, good for a first-round score of 6-under 65 and a tie for the lead in the LPGA Drive On Championship as Korda entered the clubhouse at the Bradenton Country Club.

But before Thursday’s round was over, Korda could only share the lead with Ko, the winner at last week’s season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando. The 26-year-old from New Zealand, a 20-time winner on the LPGA Tour, carded six birdies, the final one on the 17th hole, to pull even with Korda at minus-6 of the $1.75 million event, the first full-field event of the season.

Right behind Korda and Ko is Danish golfer Nanna Koerstz Madsen at 5-under. At minus-4 is the quartet of Sei Young Kim, Chanettee Wannasaen, Minji Kang, and Ruoning Yin, the latter ranked second in the world behind Lilia Vu. Six other players are at 3-under.

2024 LPGA Drive On Championship

Lydia Ko plays her shot from the 10th tee during the first round of the LPGA Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

After carding a 5 on the par-4 No. 1 hole, Korda got into minus territory with birdies on 2 and 3. Three more birdies, plus an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole, sent her into the turn at 5 under. A birdie on No. 10 moved her to 6 under, but a bogey on 15, followed by a birdie on 17, kept Korda at 6 under into the clubhouse.

“A majority of my putts came, birdies came on the front nine today,” Korda said. “Then kind of hit some loose shots on the back nine but still came in 1-under par. Overall pretty happy in pretty tough conditions.”

The wind, she said, made the already difficult greens even tougher.

“Yeah, the greens are very difficult,” Korda said. “Obviously when you have kind of gusty 20-mile-an-hour winds it definitely makes it even a little harder. So sometimes clubbing up two clubs and trying to hit apunch shot to stay under the wind was key. Everyone is dealing with it, so just got to take it as it goes, try to giveyourself as many opportunities as possible.”

In Orlando, Ko’s minus-14 total was two strokes better than American Alexa Pano. This came after a 2023 season in which Ko was winless in 20 events.

“I played really solid, especially in the first half of our round…


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