Nelly Korda and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko are tied atop the leaderboard after one round of the LPGA Drive On Championship on Thursday in Bradenton, Fla.
Korda and Ko shot 6-under 65s at Bradenton Country Club, good for a one-stroke lead over Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
Korda, a Bradenton native, is seeking her first LPGA victory since November 2022, while Ko could win her third straight outing. Ko won last week’s season opener, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, along with December’s mixed-team exhibition (with Australian Jason Day), the Grant Thornton Invitational.
“Definitely nice to be able to win the first event of the year, especially because you don’t have anything really to reference your round off or your game,” Ko said. “Grant Thornton was only five weeks ago, but that’s a completely different format, and so wasn’t like I was coming in with a ton of like really good momentum.
“But just trying to feed off what was going well last week, and overall I thought I played really solid.”
Ko rolled in six birdies on a bogey-free day, while Korda’s round was more adventurous.
Korda brushed off an opening bogey by birdies on the par-4 second and third holes. After another birdie at the par-5 sixth, she went eagle-birdie-birdie at Nos. 8-10 to rise to 6 under.
She described her eagle at the par-5 eighth as a “tap-in.”
“I hit my driver really well on this hole. Gosh, I think I had 257 into the pin and hit my 3-wood really good. It was helping off the left. Played it nicely off the slope to a tap-in.”
She finished her round with a second bogey and her sixth and final birdie.
“I love every single time I get to play in Florida,” Korda said. “I feel like people come out and support. But it’s better to play literally in your hometown, so definitely felt a lot of the support and it was great.”
Koerstz Madsen made six birdies and a single bogey for her 5-under 66.
“It was a good day. I played steady golf,” she said. “Missed a green here and there but made an up and down. My approach was just staying — being a little patient out there because it was a grind. I mean, it was a lot of wind out there, so keep it on the high side of the hole.”
China’s Ruoning Yin, last year’s Women’s PGA Championship winner, opened with a 4-under 67, tying for fourth with South Koreans Sei Young Kim and Minji Kang and Thailand’s Chanettee Wannasaen.