Lydia Ko expects Nelly Korda to adapt her game to tough challenge of Carnoustie

American’s brilliant recent form saw her took gold at the Tokyo Olympics

Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko share a laugh during the final round of the Olympic Games golf tournament. Korda took golf and Ko bronze. Photograph: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Nelly Korda, the name on everyone’s lips, has been tipped to sufficiently adapt her game for the vagaries of Carnoustie links golf to win a second Major of the year.

Korda is the main talking point at this week's British Women's Open after backing up PGA Championship success in Atlanta in June by claiming a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Yet seaside golf is a different beast entirely, with Carnoustie's infamous brutality leading to intrigue over whether the 23-year-old Korda can continue her wonderful run.

“When you look at Nelly’s game she’s obviously very long and also accurate,” said Lydia Ko, the second favourite to Korda with most bookmakers. “She is a great putter. Her iron control is amazing. Her short game is great. I go could on and on and on about how great Nelly’s game is and she has an incredible mental strength, as well, on top of it.

“She already had three wins this year. The Olympics made it four and she has a bunch of top 10s. She is very impressive. Her game is a game where it doesn’t fit one type of golf course and it definitely can translate well to here where she is plenty long and also accurate.


“I’m sure she’s going to have a great week. Golf day-in and day-out can feel different, but she’s been playing so good and so consistently well, so I’m sure she’s one of the names we’ll be seeing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her around the top of the leaderboard.”

Not that it would be wise to discount Ko's chances. Two Major top 10 finishes, a first LPGA Tour win for three years and an Olympic bronze added to the sense that the New Zealander's career can reach great heights once more.

Ko, now 24, remains adamant she will retire from her sport young. “I hope to not be playing when I’m 34,” she said. “I love this game but I feel like there’s also a lot of other things that I would like to do in my life.

“I’m just going to have a good time and whatever happens, happens. Just not be so result-oriented and enjoy my time here in Carnoustie. This might be the trickiest British Open I’ve played yet. You have to be very strategic around here.”

This tournament changed the life and career of Sophia Popov when played at Troon in 2020. From a previous position of 304th in the world, the German won the Major relatively comfortably. Popov will begin her defence as world No 28 and with a Solheim Cup debut just weeks away.

“It’s a little bit emotional coming out here and it’s obviously a really cool venue,” Popov said. “You only realise it once you get on site and you do see your face everywhere. You realise: ‘Oh my God, it’s been a year now and this is the event that changed so much for me’. I think up until last week, it was just a regular season and just keep playing, keep playing. And then once I kind of set foot out here, it was like: ‘Okay, I’m coming here to truly enjoy this week, you know, regardless of what happens’.”

Popov made her British Women's Open debut at Carnoustie a decade ago, tying 67th. "I didn't really realise quite as much in 2011 how tough the final stretch really is, so that's kind of something that's definitely noticeable this year," Popov added. – Guardian