Korda catches fire late, just 2 off early Chevron lead

Korda catches fire late, just 2 off early Chevron lead
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The rest of the field better watch out at the Chevron Championship.

The hottest player in golf said she’s operating at just 70% – and yet she’s still squarely in the mix after one round at The Woodlands.

Looking to become just the third LPGA player to win five consecutive events, Nelly Korda caught fire late in her opening round to card a 4-under 68, the best score of the afternoon wave, and sit just two shots off the early lead in the first women’s major of the year.

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

And that was more of the same for Korda, who won three consecutive events last month following a seven-week break. But that winning streak – in wildly different conditions and circumstances – left her so gassed that when she returned to Florida, she said she didn’t leave the house for two days.

“I think those three weeks, I didn’t think that it was going to drain me as much as it did maybe mentally,” she said.

Korda felt at only 70% strength when she teed it up Thursday as the prohibitive favorite, but she said her energy levels were boosted when she had an apple on her fourth hole of the day. She made six birdies the rest of the way – including on four of her last six holes – as she took advantage of her length to pounce on the par 5s and knock two wedges close to the flag.

Korda’s 68 puts her in a tie for second and just two shots off the lead of Lauren Coughlin, a 31-year-old who has never won on the LPGA. Korda is tied with Marina Alex and Minami Katsu, with Lydia Ko – a victory away from gaining entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame – among those just a shot further back.

But, as usual, the rest of the field is looking up to Korda, who finished third at this tournament a year ago, one shot out of the playoff. Her path to the title was made even easier Thursday when world No. 2 Lilia Vu (back) and Angel Yin (foot), who lost in the 2023 playoff, bowed out because of injuries.

Only two players in LPGA history have won five consecutive LPGA events: Annika Sorenstam (2004-05) and Nancy Lopez (1978).

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