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Yuka Saso US Women's Open opening day wrap

Only Four Finish Under, Nelly Korda Shoots 80 on Brutal Opening Day in Lancaster

If you wanted to see golfers struggle, then the opening day of the US Women’s Open was perfect for you!

 

It was a brutal opening day at the US Women’s Open, with only four players finishing the day under par.

At the top, 2021 champion Yuka Saso leads the way. She was the only player in the 156-strong field to reach 3-under at any point, eventually finishing her round at -2 after a bogey on her final hole.

What about the other big stories on day one? The big names – Lexi and Nelly to name just a couple – struggled, and struggled badly…

So what happened on Thursday at the US Women’s Open?

Lancaster Country Club played tough… Really tough!

That was shown early on Thursday, with the biggest names coming to grief at just their third hole of the tournament.

But let’s start with the positives. Japan’s Yuka Saso showed why she is a major champion already, piecing together an incredible round of 68 to lead by one at the end of a long day.

The Japanese star finished her round at 8pm ET, with the sun setting in Pennsylvania. She made the turn in 34, before making three stunning par saves in succession to remain in the red numbers.

Birdies at the par 4 15th and 16th saw Saso become the first player to reach 3-under on Thursday, but she did give one of those back on her final hole of the day.

Nonetheless, the 2021 US Open champion is in prime position to lift the Harton S. Semple Trophy for a second time come Sunday evening.

Elsewhere, it was a day for the amateurs, with four of them at level par or better. The best of those rounds came from France’s Adela Cernousek, who posted a 1-under-par 69 to sit one back at the end of the day.

The American trio of Megan Schofill, Catherine Park and Asterisk Talley are all even after rounds of 70 on the opening day.

The incredible thing about that is the age of the latter. Talley is just 15-years-old, and playing in the US Women’s Open for the first time. However, she showed no nerves, recovering brilliantly after a triple bogey on 8. Three birdies on the back nine brought her into the red, before eventually finishing level par, and just two back from Saso.

With how tough it was out there on Thursday, there was always going to be big scores. However, some of the names that shot those scores were not who you would expect.

Defending champion Allisen Corpuz could only shoot a 5-over-par 75, but she remains well clear of several of her Solheim Cup teammates.

The soon-to-be-retiring Lexi Thompson could only shoot a 78, while Rose Zhang carded a 9-over 79. But what of World No 1 Nelly Korda?

Well, her day was even worse… But we will get into that later on!

To show how brutal it was in round one at Lancaster Country Club, there were 18 players that posted a round in the 80s.

Lexi Thompson US Women's Open opening day

Who said what after the US Women’s Open first round?

Yuka Saso (-2)

“I made really good putts. I was more lucky than playing good. I had a few long par putts. I was very lucky and I was able to have fun out there with Hannah [Green] and Brooke [Henderson].

“10, I hit a good shot off the tee and the second shot, I messed it up. I had six or seven feet for par and again I was lucky on that one. On 11, I hit my second shot long and I had a very difficult chip. I had 15 feet for par, made it and then on 12, I pulled it in left bunker and I had similar, and made it again. I think, you can tell I was very lucky today!”

Adela Cernousek (a) (-1)

“I don’t think I have any expectations. I don’t think I have anything to lose, so I just tried to enjoy everything with G on the bag and just live the experience to the fullest.

“I can’t even believe I’m playing here this week actually. It’s one of the most important tournaments out there for me. It’s super fun to be able to be here.”

Asterisk Talley (a) (E)

“I feel like it was a rollercoaster today. I had a chip in on 6 for birdie and then a triple on 7. Bogeys are out there today. That is the one you want when you’re in trouble. You’re not trying to save par when you’re out there, you are trying to manage bogey and run away from the hole!

“Just being aside some pros, playing alongside them and really being in the moment, not getting ahead of myself and playing my round. Being out here alongside out all these people is really fun!”

Alexandra Forsterling (E)

“I feel amazing. It was a lot of fun out there. My game was really solid. Managed everything well with the wind, and yeah, I’m overall more than happy.

“I won on the Ladies European Tour not last week but the week before, so I knew that my game was really well at the moment, and I was just trying to take the momentum and really have fun.”

Nelly Korda (+10)

“We waited for like 25 to 30 minutes on that tee, too. I was in between a 7-iron and a 6-iron. I just didn’t really know what to hit. Sometimes it’s not really good seeing the girls play in front of you because two of them — Gaby [Lopez] came up short of the water, and I think Ingrid [Lindblad] went into the water.

“It was just a tough day. I kind of teed it up behind the tee box a little one club length back. I hit a 6-iron and it just kind of penetrated through the wind and it went into the back bunker. I kind of had a leaf under my ball, so when I hit it kind of rocketed through. Couldn’t really do anything about that. Yeah, just hit some really bad chips over and over again.

“Yeah, I just didn’t really want to shoot 80, and I just kept making bogeys. My last two rounds in the U.S. Women’s Open have not been good. I ended Sunday at Pebble I think shooting 81, and then today I shot 80.”

US Women's Open qualify

TEN! Yes, a 10… And for the World No 1!

Would you believe it.. All the talk around Nelly Korda was that she would be aiming to win her second major championship of 2024, on her way to a possible ‘Nelly Slam’.

That quickly went out of the window after just her third hole of the day on Thursday, as she made a 10 on the par-3 12th hole.

Her tee shot went long on this downhill par 3, but that was just the start of her troubles. Her next three shots would find the water hazard at the front of the green.

Korda would eventually make it on to the green in eight, with two putts needed to round out one of the worst holes of her career.

Nelly Korda Us Women's Open Ten

Stat of the day

The stat of the day also comes courtesy of the World No 1. And yes, it’s also about the 10 she carded at the 12th hole.

Prior to that, Korda had played 8,696 holes during her LPGA Tour career. She had never made a 10… Until today!

If you’re wondering, 8,696 holes equates to just over 483 rounds of golf…

Shot of the day

There can be no discussion here. Germany’s Sophia Popov – the winner of the 2020 AIG Women’s Open – made just the 32nd ace in US Women’s Open history!

The German had birdied the previous hole to get back to 3-over, and that momentum would certainly continue with the par 3 8th.

She hit a 5-wood from 205 yards on the uphill par 3, and it was perfect! The ball landed around 20 feet short of the hole, took the break beautifully and found the flagstick.

Lexi Watch

We had to have a section if our story of the day for Lexi Thompson. At the start of the week, Lexi announced that she would retire at the end of the year.

That meant that Thursday would see the start of her final US Women’s Open, the event where she became known to the world at the age of just 12 back in 2007.

In her 18th successive appearance at the US Women’s Open, Thompson started her week at Lancaster with a round of 78.

The 29-year-old struggled with a consistent left miss with her irons, and was also unlucky to find herself in some really awkward spots throughout her round.

From the very start, she was up against it, but she continued smiling throughout the round. She will come back on Friday morning and try and fight to make the cut!

Sprinklers, Sprinklers, Sprinklers

There were plenty of rulings on the opening day at Lancaster Country Club, with the majority of those coming because of sprinkler heads around the greens.

The venue seems to have groups of sprinkler heads around the green, and this is making for some tricky decisions for the pros.

Rose Zhang was among those requiring the assistance of a rules official to make sure they did not fall foul to the rules of the game.

It can be a tricky one to work out, especially if there are several in the same area. Luckily, our very own Hannah Holden explains it in this video for us simpletons!

Coverage? What coverage?

Unfortunately, for those looking to tune in and see the world’s best player.. No…

I was going to lambast Sky Sports for only beginning their coverage of the opening day at 5pm UK time. However, that also seems to be the start time on Peacock (the channel which the early action is being shown in the USA).

That equates to a 12pm ET start time for coverage. Nelly Korda, Nasa Hataoka and Megan Khang got under way just before 8:15am, so for those only able to watch on TV, they saw six holes after the broadcast began.

And if you tried to watch the featured groups online, there was also no sound for the first couple of hours of play.. Unfortunately, it just was not good enough from the USGA or streaming services in the United States!

Follow NCG on X for more 2024 US Women’s Open content!

Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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