LANCASTER, Pa. — Standing on the perimeter of Lancaster Nation Membership’s ninth inexperienced, moments after stroking her last putt of the day, Nelly Korda opened her purple scorecard holder, seemed down, and sighed so deeply that the enlargement of her ribcage was seen from steps away.

Her shoulders lifted. Then they sank. A giant, fats first-round 80 on the U.S. Women’s Open stared again up at her, the sight of her septuple bogey 10 early within the round possible sending shivers up her backbone as soon as once more.

The world No.1 didn’t appear like herself Thursday. She’s gained six tournaments in seven begins on the LPGA Tour this season, together with the primary main, the Chevron Championship. She managed to boost trophies along with her B sport. However Korda nonetheless crumbled within the face of this U.S. Open check. She didn’t have it. It’ll take an all-time second round on a tricky setup to even take into consideration making the reduce.

“I’m human,” Korda stated after signing for her 10-over-par rating. “I’m going to have bad days. I played some really solid golf up to this point. Today was just a bad day. That’s all I can say.”

There wasn’t far more to it than that. Korda’s sport escaped her on a golf course that calls for precision and management. It began after her third tee shot of the day, on the downhill 161-yard par-3 twelfth, which one participant described as a gap that provides you “nowhere to miss.” Korda realized that the arduous manner.

After ready on the tee field for greater than 25 minutes, Korda’s group had seen all of it. Ingrid Lindblad, the No. 1 novice on the planet, dumped one into the creek wanting the inexperienced. Gaby Lopez caught a gust of wind so sturdy that her ball ended up wanting the identical hazard. As soon as the inexperienced had lastly cleared, Korda determined to make use of the knowledge she’d collected throughout the excruciatingly lengthy delay. She clubbed up, even ensuring to tee her ball a membership size behind the markers for good measure, and blasted a 6-iron into the again bunker. The ball was protected. However not for lengthy.

With a leaf inconveniently nestled beneath her ball within the sand, Korda’s shot by no means had an opportunity of coming to a halt on the slick back-to-front sloping placing floor. Her ball plunged into the water. She took a drop on the alternative facet of the meandering creek. One penalty shot. She chipped, and her ball rolled again into the water — once more. Two penalty photographs. One other drop. One other chip within the creek. Three penalty photographs. Along with her third chip, she lastly went lengthy of the cup.

Two putts. A ten on the scorecard.

Korda was gasping for air the remainder of the day. Pars felt like small victories. The sloppy errors continued to sting, and her tempo of play was noticeably faster.

“I just didn’t want to shoot 80, and I just kept making bogeys,” Korda stated, immediately remembering her latest historical past at this championship. “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.”

Korda’s front-nine complete climbed so excessive that the usual bearer strolling along with her group struggled to seek out the precise quantity playing cards to characterize her rating subsequent to her title, momentarily leaving the spot clean, to the confusion of many spectators. She completed her first 9 with a 10-over 45.

Albeit puzzled by Korda’s play — and typically silent as she let her driver plummet to the bottom after off-line tee photographs — those self same spectators by no means left. They got here out in droves Thursday morning to look at the world No. 1 stroll the slim fairways at Lancaster, a crowd befitting her new standing within the sport however one which hasn’t all the time been the case due to venue or different exterior components. After getting wind of her septuple bogey, one native mom and daughter rushed to the course, hoping to get a glimpse of Korda earlier than she probably missed the weekend.

Korda’s strong gallery was by far the biggest of the morning wave, and its members have been simply as content material clapping in awe of her brilliance as they have been providing her phrases of encouragement as she one way or the other salvaged a back-nine 35 with three birdies.


Nelly Korda’s first-round 80 takes her out of rivalry on the U.S. Women’s Open. (John Jones / USA Right this moment Sports activities)

The world No. 1’s battle at Lancaster on Thursday was as relatable because it will get. This sport is fickle. It’s maddening. Generally it is not sensible. Generally it might really feel like a breeze. And nobody has understood the latter higher than Korda, who’s been dwelling on the high of the leaderboard for the higher a part of three months. However she’s additionally conscious that on this sport, that feeling doesn’t final without end — not even for one of the best participant on the planet.

Tuesday, Korda spoke of the phenomenon, virtually foreshadowing the carnage that will ensue two days later. “I think that’s what makes this game so great. You can be on top of the world the first two days, and then you wake up and you’re like, what am I doing right now? Why am I hitting it sideways? And you have no idea what’s going on,” Korda stated. “It’s funny, golf is such a hard game.”

After signing her scorecard, answering precisely three questions on her round within the interview room, and congregating along with her group behind the clubhouse, Korda headed again to the vary. When she acquired to her spot on the leftmost fringe of the hitting space, she didn’t rush to seize a membership or pause to scroll via missed messages on her cellphone. She sat on the turf, legs crossed over each other. Korda remained nonetheless for a number of moments, alone.

She simply wanted a second.

(Prime picture: Patrick Smith / Getty Pictures)