After an operation and a covid to start the year, Nelly Korda finds her form

After an operation and a covid to start the year, Nelly Korda finds her form

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SOUTHERN PINES, NC — A white compression sleeve covers Nelly Korda’s left arm, a clear reminder of the heartbreaking start to this year for the world’s second-ranked golfer.

Korda wore the protective gear all week at the US Women’s Open following a procedure in March to remove a blood clot from her subclavian vein. In a social media post showing her recovery, Korda also revealed that she had contracted coronavirus in January.

So it is with a combination of uncertainty, limited expectations and gratitude that the former world No. 1 for 26 consecutive weeks, a record for an American player, arrived at Pine Needles this week in search of her second victory in a major championship.

“I’m here in the heat competing at the US Women’s Open,” she said, “and a few months ago I wasn’t sure I was going to do this.”

Korda carded a 1-under par 70 in the third round and briefly got within range of 54-hole leader Minjee Lee by birdie on the par-5 15th hole to get to 7 under the tournament, but three consecutive bogeys to come in blunt his load.

Korda is at 4 under 209 for the tournament and trails Lee by nine strokes.

Still, arriving at the weekend wasn’t just a testament to Korda’s determination after surgery in Florida and weeks of rehabilitation in California. It also ended a disappointing streak of two consecutive US Women’s Opens in which she missed the cut.

“It’s definitely not the finish I wanted,” said Korda, who shot under par in every inning this week. ” It was hard. I’m sure it was hard to watch too, but yeah, I’m just happy to be here even though that [finish] was a hard pill to swallow. I still have one more day and I’m doing what I love.

To show just how grateful she is to play, Korda even paused during her lap when the weather allowed her to sign for the legion of fans in the galleries who followed her around the welcoming 6,638-yard course. the US Women’s Open for a fourth record. time.

Korda is competing in her first major championship this year after sitting out the Chevron, formerly ANA Inspiration Championship, in early April while recovering from surgery.

“I really, really love it when little kids and little girls scream my name,” Korda said. “Some of them even ask me for an autograph during the tour, and I can’t say no. I’m so happy to be here.

The low round of the day belonged to New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who birdied six en route to a 5-under 66 to move into a tie for fourth at 6-under 207 in her 11th appearance at the US Women’s Open.

Ko opened her round with a birdie at the par-5 first and closed with another at the par-4 18th, earning a cheering ovation when she landed her approach to the final hole inside two feet.

Ko entered this week looking for her third victory at a major championship and her first at the US Women’s Open, where the former world No. 1’s best result is tied for third in 2016.

“You never know, do you?” said Ko, who became the youngest woman to win a major tournament when in 2015 she won the Evian Championship aged 18 years 4 months 20 days. “There were lower scores in this course. I’m just going to focus on my game, just enjoy it. It’s such a great golf course, and it’s a fun course where I think you can get aggressive.

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