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Walton Heath 2023

Nelly Korda


World number one excited by Walton Heath challenge

Nelly Korda during a practice round ahead of the 2023 AIG Women

Nelly Korda arrives at the AIG Women’s Open with fond memories of her last competition in England but the American is refusing to tempt fate as she bids to lift this trophy for the first time.

The 25-year-old recently regained top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and claimed her third Ladies European Tour victory at July’s Aramco Team Series London event at Centurion Club.

Plenty of pre-Championship talk on the other side of the capital in Walton Heath has surrounded the softness of the course brought about by sustained rainfall.

But Korda, one of the longest hitters on tour, has learned from the past when it comes to expecting that to necessarily play in her favour.

“I feel like every single time I've talked about maybe having an advantage because of length at golf course, you actually kind of see more of the shorter hitters playing well,” she said.

“I mean, they are used to hitting hybrids into the greens. At the end of the day, everyone just has to play their own game and keep it in play.

“If you are not hitting the fairways, it gets pretty tough out here with chip shots out and the greens are pretty slow.

“I would say it's a completely different style of golf [in the UK]. Depending on the weather and style of golf course, you have to have a lot of creativity out here.

“It [Centurion] is a completely different kind of golf course but that week was so much fun.

“The wind was brutal and the weather was just awful, and the shot-shaping and the low shots that I got to hit was a lot of fun. I think I'm okay doing that once or twice a year.

“I wouldn't want to do it every week, to play in that weather, but it's a lot of fun.”

The forecast indicates conditions will be an improvement on Korda’s successful week in Hertfordshire, with a clear and sunny day expected for the opening round on Thursday.

The Olympic champion will be joined by Lydia Ko and Charley Hull in one of several star-studded trios and she is particularly looking forward to playing alongside home favourite Hull, who she led home by four shots in her most recent success.

“I love Charley, she's so much fun to be around,” Korda said.

“I love playing with her. I've played a couple practice rounds with her. We're pretty friendly.

“She’s a fast player, I enjoy that, and she has a really good personality. She's fun to be around and she's an amazing golfer. Her putting is ridiculous.

“She's going to be a fan favourite here, so we'll have a lot of people cheering for her and having a good crowd out is nice. You want to perform your best for them as well as for yourself.

“I just have a really good group with Lyds and Charley the next two days. They are both really nice girls that I've gotten to know over the years. They have really great personalities, so it will be light and fun.”

Korda’s best AIG Women’s Open performance came when she tied for ninth in 2019, her sole finish inside the top 10 in six previous visits.

She replicated that placing at last month’s Evian Championship, won by Céline Boutier, and Korda knows she will have to be at the top of her game if she is to be celebrating a second major come Sunday evening.

“It's tough to win out here,” she said.

“Every year, the girls are getting better and every year there are younger girls coming out dominating.

“Rose [Zhang] came out and won her first event. It's getting tough. So whenever you win, it feels really good.”

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