Thursday's golf: Nelly Korda has wet ride on way to opening 64 at Evian Championship

Associated Press

Evian-les-Bains, France — Nelly Korda is just trying to enjoy herself at the Evian Championship after a four-month injury layoff that has given her more perspective about her golf.

Not that she felt so great taking a shot while standing barefoot in a slimy lake.

“I’ve never done anything like that and I must say, it was really gross,” Korda said about her adventure at No. 18 midway through an 7-under 64 that left her a stroke behind first-round leader Ayaka Furue on Thursday in the fourth major of 2022.

Nelly Korda

Korda’s approach shot at the par-5 18th hole — her ninth of the day after starting at No. 10 — ended up rolling down a bank on the front right of the green and into the water. Her caddie ran up to the green and saw it was possible to make contact with the ball, so Korda removed her golf shoes, waded into the lake, and splashed out to the edge of the green.

Korda went on to make par.

“It was really slimy,” Korda said, making a face before laughing.

The American missed a 12-foot birdie putt at her last hole but still shot her lowest round of the year, continuing her impressive comeback after time out following surgery on a blood clot in her arm.

This is her fifth event since returning to competitive action on June 16 and she has three top-10s in that time. She was No. 1 in the world when she stopped playing and now is No. 3.

“I think I’m a little more chill about it all,” she said. “I’m trying to enjoy myself as much as possible on the golf course.

“I don’t know if my caddie will agree because I do obviously get frustrated here and there but I am trying to remind myself that I’m lucky to be out there. Just enjoy every moment.”

That’s pretty much what Furue did.

A seven-time winner in her native Japan, the No. 31-ranked Furue is looking to back up a fourth-place finish at the major in France last year and rolled in nine birdies after her solitary bogey, at No. 13.

She responded by making birdie at six of her next eight holes and then three of her last four. The one at No. 9, her last hole, was from 8 feet and ensured she shot 63 for her lowest round at a major.

Korda was tied for second place with No. 10-ranked Brooke Henderson of Canada, who posted 64 by holing a double-breaker for eagle at No. 9, also her last hole.

American golfer Cheyenne Knight was in the clubhouse in fourth place at 6 under, a stroke ahead of top-ranked Jin Young Ko and another two-time major champion, Lydia Ko. Also shooting 66s were Japan’s Yuna Nishimura, France’s Perrine Delacour and England’s Charley Hull.

In Gee Chun, who won the Women’s PGA Championship last month, was in a nine-way tie for 10th place at 4 under.

PGA 

Scott Piercy shot a 6-under 65 to share the 3M Open lead with Sungjae Im after the first round, fresh off several significant changes he made in search of a late-season boost.

Tony Finau was two strokes back, with three near misses of birdie putts over his last four holes. Brice Garnett, Doug Ghim, Emiliano Grillo and Tom Hoge rounded out the group with Finau at 67.

On a dry, windy, 86-degree day at the TPC Twin Cities in suburban Minneapolis, the course's penchant for producing low scores held up once again.

Scott Piercy hits the ball at the 18th hole during the opening round of the 3M Open golf tournament at the Tournament Players Club in Blaine, Minn., Thursday, July 21, 2022.

Playing in the second group of the day off the first tee, Piercy made 151 feet worth of putts. He birdied four of the first five holes on his back nine.

The 43-year-old Piercy, who led the 3M Open in 2019 by two strokes after the first round, is one of several on-the-fringe players in the field this year seeking a late-season lift in the FedEx Cup race. 

Im, who's 19th in the FedEx Cup standings and 24th in the world, birdied four of his last six holes. The 24-year-old from Korea tied for eighth at the Masters this year but tied for 81st last week at the British Open.

The highest-ranked player in the field, Hideki Matsuyama, withdrew. He cited a sore wrist after shooting a 77 to match his worst round of the season, his Saturday at the Masters on April 9.

Champions

Playing with a new set of golf clubs after his own ones failed to arrive from the United States, Glen Day never expected to be a contender at the Senior British Open this week.

Imagine his surprise, then, at taking a share of the lead after the first round at Gleneagles in Scotland. Day converted an 8-foot eagle putt at the par-5 18th at The King’s Course to match Stephen Ames’ bogey-free 6-under 64.

Padraig Harrington, the two-time Open champion and reigning U.S. Senior Open champion made five birdies on the back nine in his round of 66.

Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 champion at Carnoustie, was one stroke back along with Jerry Kelly, Kent Jones and Darren Clarke.

Ernie Els, a two-time British Open winner, shot a 66 that included an eagle on the par-4 14th.

Bernhard Langer, the 64-year-old German who has won the Senior Open four times, was three strokes off the lead. Defending champion Stephen Dodd of Wales got to 1 under with an eagle on the 18th.

Europe

Paul Waring tied the course record by shooting 9-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead in the first round of the Cazoo Classic.

The 37-year-old Englishman holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle at the par-5 17th and then birdied the last at Hillside in Southport, northern England, to shoot his best round of a year that has seen him miss the cut in five of 11 events on tour.

Garrick Porteous shot 65 to be alone in second place and there was a four-way tie for third between Julien Guerrier, Grant Forrest, Jens Dantorp and Richard Mansell.