Korda joined in Women's British Open lead by Sagstrom and Kim

Carnoustie (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Nelly Korda lived up to her tag of world number one by taking a share of the first-round lead in the Women's British Open alongside South Korea's Kim Sei-young and Swede Madelene Sagstrom at Carnoustie on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Korda, already the winner of her first major at the LPGA Championship in June and the Olympic gold medallist from Tokyo earlier this month, continued her glorious summer with an eight-birdie round of 67.

But on a relatively calm day over the notoriously brutal Scottish links course, Kim and Sagstrom matched that five-under score.

Korda had ducked out of her pre-tournament press conference -- but she insisted there was nothing sinister about the decision as she instead spent more time on the driving range.

"I still feel like a little girl playing golf," explained Korda, the daughter of 1998 Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda.

"It has been a long couple of weeks and I have to carefully manage my time. Yesterday (Wednesday) I had to play in a Pro-am and I wasn't hitting it all that well and wanted to get to the range. I was really, really tired."

But there was nothing weary about her golf in the first round of the season's fifth and final major.

"It was a bit drizzly but there wasn't too much wind so I could be aggressive," she added.

"I've not played much links (coastal) golf so I picked the brains of (2004 champion) Karen Stupples.

"She was out on the course as part of the Golf Channel team and she told me to miss the fairway bunkers. On links courses, sometimes it is better to have a longer club into the green."

- Kim in contention -

Kim had a top-10 finish in the Olympics and the world number four made six birdies to raise hopes of adding a second major to her victory in last year's LPGA Championship.

"I didn't win a medal but the Tokyo Olympics gave me good momentum and I really enjoyed today," she said.

In contention - South Korea's Kim Sei-young shared the lead after the first round of the Women's British Open at Carnoustie
In contention - South Korea's Kim Sei-young shared the lead after the first round of the Women's British Open at Carnoustie YOSHI IWAMOTO AFP

"The weather from Japan to here is so different but I'm very happy. I struggled when I first played in Scotland at the 2015 Open at Turnberry -- but now I love it."

Sagstrom rolled in seven birdies and her low score could not have come at a more opportune time.

The Swede was playing alongside European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew -- and she is hoping to be named in the Scot's team to defend the trophy in the United States next month, with the side announced on Monday.

"I am always excited to play with Catriona," said the 28-year-old, who appeared in the 2017 Solheim Cup. "And, of course, I was wanting to show off my game to her. I'm playing well at the moment, but who knows what is in her mind?"

The leaders were one clear of a group that included two Britons in 2018 champion Georgia Hall and the impressive British Amateur champion Louise Duncan, as well as the US Women's Open winner Yuka Saso of the Philippines.

Home heroine Duncan got one of the loudest cheers of the day when the Scot holed a monster 50-foot putt for an eagle three at the long 14th.

"I was so nervous and I hardly slept," admitted the 21-year-old student. "But now I am looking forward to tomorrow (Friday). I have an early start so it will be great to just get up and go and not have time to think about it."