[PHOTO: Patrick Smith]

There are a few words to describe Nelly Korda’s round at the US Women’s Open, including “tough” and “resilient” on the positive end. Unfortunately for her, the word “disastrous” also applied, particularly on the par-3 12th hole, her third of the day, when she did something that she had not done on any of the 8,696 holes she had played in her LPGA career: made a 10. She didn’t make worse than bogey the rest of her round, but she made five more of those, along with three birdies, to sit T-141 (as of writing). On the back nine, she was actively trying to beat 80, but a three-putt on the final green meant she hit that inglorious total on the number.

“Not a lot of positive thoughts, honestly,” she said, gamely facing the media after her round despite a tangible sense of resignation. “I just didn’t play well today. I didn’t hit it good. I found myself in the rough a lot. Making a 10 on a par-3 will definitely not do you any good at a US Open.”

Watch Nelly Korda make a disastrous 10(!!) on a par 3 early in her opening round of the US Women’s Open

It is always surprising when a player of Korda’s calibre shoots an 80, and particularly so in a year like 2024 when she has set an historic pace that already includes six victories and a major championship. That said, as Korda herself admitted afterwards, she’s had her share of troubles at US Opens past. She has two top-10s, but also two missed cuts, and in the press conference she brought up her closing 81 at Pebble Beach last year unprompted. There are not many challenges that have stood up to Korda in her career, but the US Women’s Open is one that has given her significant trouble.

Before her round began, Brandel Chamblee went into some detail on her struggles at her national major, pointing out that she has a history of finding trouble, and has averaged almost three double-bogeys or worse per tournament, which makes winning the hardest major on the calendar mission impossible.

Nobody could have predicted that nightmarish 10 – she took her three double-bogey average and got it all on one hole – but Korda having trouble at the US Open is not the novelty it may seem on paper.

Circumstances were against her on 12, where a long delay was compounded by having to watch two of the players in front of her hit poor tee shots. When she hit her tee shot into the back bunker, it came to rest on a leaf, making her next shot more difficult than it might have been. She hit that one over the green and into the water, and then dumped two pitches into the water to make a bad situation worse.

She soldiered on admirably, despite some visible frustration, but at a course playing hard enough that a score of even-par would have you in the current top 10, she couldn’t get any traction.

“I’m human,” she said. “I’m going to have bad days.”

Korda’s bad days are few and far between, but a surprising number seem to come at this championship. She’ll try to reverse course in round two, and even with this 80, she has a reasonable chance to make the cut with a more typical “Nelly-in-2024” round. But it may have already tanked her chances of winning, and Korda playing her way out of contention on a Thursday is something we haven’t seen in a very long time.