Korda survives ‘oopsy’ as Szokol takes dramatic LPGA lead
Former world number one Nelly Korda survived a “bit of an oopsy” to card a four-under par 68, four shots behind surprise leader Elizabeth Szokol, after the first round of the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore on Thursday .
Olympic champion Korda was in a tie for third after making par after a tricky shot on the short fourth hole and staying in touch with Szokol.
Fellow American Korda, who is ranked 153rd in the world, shot an excellent eight-under-par 64 at the Sentosa Golf Club.
The 2021 US Women’s Open champion, Yuka Saso of Japan, was tied for second, three shots back, after a 67 at the $1.8 million LPGA event.
“I played really strong,” said Korda, who is ranked second in the world and was coming off a sixth-place finish at LPGA Thailand last weekend.
“I had one little oopsy, and that was on the fourth.”
Szokol put the daylight between herself and a star-studded field that includes the world’s top five and 18 of the top 20.
Szokol opened with a bogey at the 10th, her first hole, but from there she never looked back, carding seven birdies and an eagle to climb to the top of the leaderboard.
“It’s great. I’m really happy with the start,” said Szokol, who is on the way back after sitting out the second half of last season with a herniated disc in her back.
“I was out for about four or five months and I didn’t touch a golf club for about 12 weeks,” the 28-year-old said.
“I was really focused on getting better and feeling healthy. So I’m really happy to be back playing, and especially here.”
Philippines-born Saso started the front nine strongly with four birdies to turn in a 32, but could only add one more to finish with a 67.
The 21-year-old, who models her swing on Rory McIlroy, is still looking for her first LPGA victory since her breakthrough in 2021.
“It’s not easy to win on the LPGA,” said Saso. “I have to keep grinding and give myself opportunities every week. But it is difficult. I have to be patient and enjoy the journey.”
On the leaderboard were Lee6 Jeong-eun and Kim Hyo-joo from South Korea also at four under plus Ayaka Furue from Japan, the Thai pair of Patty Tavatanakit and Ariya Jutanugarn, and Korda.
“Today was a good day. I feel like I really stayed inside today a lot, that I didn’t really think about what’s going to happen on the next hole,” said Tavatanakit, who won a major. at ANA Inspiration 2021 but has slipped to 65 in the world.
New Zealand’s world number one Lydia Ko was in a tie for 14th after two-under 70 and defending champion Ko Jin-young of South Korea posted a par-72.