Less seems to be more for Nelly Korda. Eyebrows were raised when the world No 1 opted to avoid pre-tournament media duties at the Women's British Open, with whispers abounding at Carnoustie as to why the recently-crowned Olympic champion may opt to shun the limelight. The explanation for reticence, it transpired, was perfectly straightforward.
“I’ve had a long couple of weeks,” Korda said. “It was the day of my pro-am and I was just really tired. I wasn’t really hitting it well, and just went to the range to try to prepare for the next four days. Sometimes you’ve got to give your body a break.”
Pressure, what pressure?
“It doesn’t matter what my ranking is,” Korda said. “Everyone’s going into this event prepared and wanting to win. That’s kind of like the mindset that I try to take into every event. Obviously there’s expectations, but you just try to settle down and keep your head down and go with the flow.”
The subdued policy has thus far paid off. Korda signed for a 67, including a birdie-birdie finish which is far from common at one of the most arduous tournament venues in the world. Her approach to the brutal 17th, to six feet, was among the shots of the day.
Korda’s round included eight birdies, illustrating the level of damage she could inflict on Carnoustie if errors are eliminated. “I’m just going on like a little girl playing golf, enjoying myself in this cold weather,” Korda added with a smile.
It transpired the “little girl” has learned from the voice of experience. Karen Stupples, the winner of this event in 2004, is at Carnoustie as part of a broadcast team. A chance conversation between the 48-year-old Stupples and Korda on Wednesday influenced the US PGA champion’s thought process.
“Karen was telling me that if you’re in the bunkers in the fairways it’s very penalising,” Korda said. “Today was fine because it wasn’t so windy and you can be aggressive, but when the wind gets obviously stronger, just taking that four-iron and giving yourself another four-iron in because it’s easier to make an up-and-down from the green than to pitch out from the bunker and then having 170 in again.
“I hit a five-iron off the tee at the 11th yesterday and we spoke about it. What she said is so true. I played well, I took advantage of a calmer day.”
Charley Hull, playing with Korda, required on-course treatment for a back niggle. By that stage Hull had started double-bogey, bogey. Another double, at the 17th, contributed to an ugly 77.
Hull’s fellow Englishwoman Mel Reid slipped to a 75. The older Korda sister, Jessica, was three under after 12 before a horror finish – Carnoustie can do that to the best of them – left her one over.
Madelene Sagström’s pairing with Europe’s Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew looked significant, with just days to go until wildcard picks are announced for the biennial event. Sagström, who represented Europe in 2017, is outside the automatic qualifying places this time. A 67, ruined only by a bogey at the last, surely helped the Swede’s case.
“Of course I want to show off my game to Catriona,” said Sagström. “I can’t deny that. I’m playing well at the moment. Who knows where her mind is at right now? I’m just trying to play as well as I can to give myself a chance for that team.
“I haven’t put too much pressure on myself this time. I put a little bit more pressure on myself both in ’17 and ’19, really wanting to make that team, and now I’m kind of at a state where I’m like, if I’m good enough, I will make that team.”
Ireland’s Leona Maguire shot a level-par 72 in her opening round. The 26-year-old birdied the second and seventh, but bogeys on fifth and eighth saw her turn in level par. The back nine was less eventful in scoring terms, a birdie on the 12th offset by a disappointing finish to the round, dropping a shot on the 18th.
Irish amateur Lauren Walsh, on scholarship at Wake Forest in America, was left to rue a disappointing back nine en route to a two-over-par 74. The 20-year-old Castlewarden golfer was one under through 11 holes, but bogeys on the par-five 12th, the 15th and the 18th saw her take 39 shots coming home.
Kim Sei-young, who has 17 professional wins to her name, joined the 67 club much later in the day.
Lydia Ko’s 72 was notable for a back nine of straight pars. Danielle Kang produced a triple bogey eight at the 14th en route to a 76.
Minjee Lee, winner of the Evian Championship last month, has back-to-back major wins in her sights after a 71. Lee still had cause to rue a three-holes stretch from the eighth, played in five over par. “I would sum the day up as eventful,” said the Australian.
Georgia Hall, the 2018 winner, has found herself outside the world's top 50 at various points this year and started this major 43rd. Playing in the afternoon wave, she had cause to be content with a 68. Hall's score was matched, highly impressively, by Scottish amateur Louise Duncan.
Sophia Popov, the defending champion, is level par. – Guardian
British and Irish unless stated, par 72, (a) denotes amateur
67 Sei-Young Kim (Kor), Nelly Korda (USA), Madelene Sagstroem (Swe)
68 Georgia Hall, Andrea Lee (USA), Yuka Saso (Phi), Louise Duncan (a)
69 Lizette Salas (USA), Carlota Ciganda (Esp), Alexis Thompson (USA)
70 Ind-Bee Park (Kor), Hinako Shibuno (Jpn), Sanna Nuutinen (Fin), Brittany Altomare (USA), Leonie Harm (Ger), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Den), Mina Harigae (USA), Albane Valenzuela (Swi), Nasa Hataoka (Jpn), Yealimi Noh (USA), Gaby Lopez (Mex)
71 Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha), Min-Jee Lee (Aus), Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den), Kylie Henry, Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (Tha), Brittany Lincicome (USA), Olivia Cowan (Ger), Jenny Shin (Kor), Lauren Stephenson (USA), Ryann O'Toole (USA), Chella Choi (Kor), Wichanee Meechai (Tha), Su-Hyun Oh (Aus), Atthaya Thitikul (Tha), Brooke Henderson (Can), Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Jennifer Kupcho (USA), Aditi Ashok (Ind), Annabell Fuller (a)
72 Sophia Popov (Ger), Stephanie Kyriacou (Aus), Celine Palomar-Herbin (Fra), Jeon-Geun Lee (Kor), Mi-Jung Hur (Kor), Katherine Kirk (Aus), Leona Maguire, Jennifer Coleman (USA), Esther Henseleit (Ger), Elizabeth Szokol (USA), Gerina Piller (USA), Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha), Eun-Hee Ji (Kor), Alison Lee (USA), Marina Alex (USA), Ana Belac (Slo), Lydia Ko (Nzl), Ally Ewing (USA), Angela Stanford (USA), Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha), Celine Boutier (Fra), Rose Zhang (a) (USA), Paula Reto (Rsa), Whitney Hillier (Aus)
73 Stacy Lewis (USA), Caroline Masson (Ger), Alice Hewson, Maha Haddioui (Mor), Jessica Korda (USA), Jodi Ewart, Mi-Hyang Lee (Kor), Kristen Gillman (USA), Christine Wolf (Aut), Annabel Dimmock, Angel Yin (USA), Sarah Schmelzel (USA), Perrine Delacour (Fra), Bronte Law, Emma Talley (USA), Lee-Anne Pace (Rsa), Matilda Castren (Fin), Hannah Green (Aus), Ashleigh Buhai (Rsa), Karolin Lampert (Ger), Lindsey Weaver (USA), Hae-Ji Kang (Kor), Agathe Sauzon (Fra), Magdalena Simmermacher (Arg), Marissa Steen (USA)
74 Laura Davies, In-Gee Chun (Kor), Azahara Munoz (Esp), Ayaka Furue (Jpn), Marianne Skarpnord (Nor), Aline Krauter (a) (Ger), Lauren Walsh (a), Muni He (Chn), Johanna Gustavsson (Swe), Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (Tha)
75 Thidapa Suwannapura (Tha), Jennifer Song (USA), Anne van Dam (Ned), Laura Fuenfstueck (Ger), Amy Yang (Kor), Felicity Johnson, Gabriella Cowley, Cydney Clanton (USA), Jaye Marie Green (USA), Pornanong Phatlum (Tha), Christina Kim (USA), Erika Hara (Jpn), Melissa Reid, Pernilla Lindberg (Swe), Kelsey MacDonald, Ssu-Chia Cheng (Tai), Serena Aoki (Jpn), Nicole Broch Larsen (Den)
76 Austin Ernst (USA), Manon de Roey (Bel), Som-Yeon Ryu (Kor), Sung-Hyun Park (Kor), A-Lim Kim (Kor), Chloe Williams, Danielle Kang (USA), Tsubasa Kajitani (a) (Jpn), Gemma Dryburgh, Prima Thammaraks (Tha)
77 Charley Hull, Pia Babnik (Slo), Megan Khang (USA), Ingrid Lindblad (a) (Swe)
78 Catriona Matthew, Mo Martin (USA), Nuria Iturrioz (Esp), Luna Sobron (Esp), Ursula Wikstroem (Fin), Sarah Kemp (Aus), Giulia Molinaro (Ita), Cheyenne Knight (USA), Amy Olson (USA), Trichat Cheenglab (Tha), Cloe Frankish
79 Lucie Malchirand (Fra)
86 Kirsten Rudgeley (a) (Aus)