Flying Blind, Korda Soars into Match Play August 12, 2015 | Portland, Ore. By Joey Flyntz, USGA

Nelly Korda set the female course record at Portland G.C. on Tuesday, despite no practice rounds for the U.S. Women's Amateur. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

U.S. Women's Amateur

Nelly Korda arrived at Portland Golf Club for the 115th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on Monday with no time to test the waters. It was straight into the deep end of the pool.

Korda, 17, of Bradenton, Fla., showed up fresh from Stage I of LPGA Tour Qualifying School at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where she finished third to advance to Stage II in late October.

It didn’t take her long to get comfortable with her surroundings. Despite flying blind on Monday, Korda fired a 1-over-par 73 before going low on Tuesday. She played her first 14 holes in 8 under par – the first time she had ever been that low in her life – en route to a 6-under 66, setting the female course record by two strokes. Her 5-under 139 over two rounds placed her in a tie for third place in the stroke-play portion of the championship.

Korda believes her lack of preparation forced her to focus.

"I think it kind of helped me, because I thought about everything a lot more. I really studied everything – where to hit it, where not to hit it,” said Korda, who faced Lydia Choi in the Round of 64 on Wednesday. “Obviously, the first day I was in every spot you don't want to be. I was lucky to make a lot of putts to save par. But today I was more comfortable with the course and just went after it."

This figures to be a whirlwind two-week period for the Korda family. Coming off her successful showing at Q School, Portland is serving as a family outing this week. Nelly’s older sister, Jessica, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up, is competing across town in the LPGA Tour’s Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Their father, Petr, the 1998 Australian Open singles champion, is serving as Nelly’s caddie.

The family is sharing a hotel room, where they talk about their rounds and the golf courses, but especially Portland’s culinary scene.

“The food is unbelievable here,” said Nelly.

Asked if there would be a conflict of interest for Petr should Nelly advance through match play and overlap with Jessica’s play in the Portland Classic, there is none.

“Oh, he’ll be with me,” said Nelly.

The way she is playing, it looks like it could come to that.

Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at jflyntz@usga.org.


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