Women’s Open 2021: Georgia Hall & Louise Duncan impress as Nelly Korda shares lead at Carnoustie

Louise Duncan tees off at the Women's Open
Louise Duncan received warm support from her home crowd at Carnoustie

Scottish amateur Louise Duncan is one shot off the lead on her Women’s Open debut after a splendid opening round in scoreable conditions at Carnoustie.

Duncan, 21, said she was “shaking like a leaf” on the first tee, but put the nerves behind her for a four-under 68.

World number one Nelly Korda, Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom and South Korea’s Kim Sui-young share the clubhouse lead.

England’s Georgia Hall was also denied a share of the lead after her excellent round ended with a bogey on the last.

Hall, the 2018 champion, was tied on five under with Korda, Sagstrom – who had both finished earlier in the afternoon – and Kim going into the 18th.

But Hall’s par putt hung on the edge of the hole and left her signing for a 68.

Playing partner Duncan received one of the biggest cheers of the opening day from the Carnoustie crowd when she converted a par putt on the last to ensure she also finished a shot adrift.

“It was a ridiculous amount of fun, I wasn’t expecting that at all,” said Duncan, who qualified by winning the Women’s Amateur Championship.

“I took each shot itself and didn’t get too ahead of myself and got it rolling.

“I was so nervous at the start, I was shaking like a leaf and could hardly put the ball on the tee. Getting it down and hitting the ball clean was a relief.”

Star names set early pace

Korda won the Olympic title in Tokyo earlier this month and is looking to cement her place as the new star of the women’s game with another victory on the Scottish links.

Eight birdies were tempered by three bogeys for the 23-year-old American, who took advantage of relatively benign weather conditions for the morning starters.

Sagstrom, 28, held a one-shot lead going into the 18th but, like Hall, finished with a bogey to drop back alongside Korda.

Korda is bidding to continue a sensational year having won the PGA Championship and Olympic gold, saying she thrives on being seen by the rest of the field as the player to beat.

“You strive to be in the position of the favourite to win,” she told Sky Sports.

“It feels good but you know you have a target on your back. I take it as a positive and see how it goes.

“I am a little tired after the Olympics but I will still give it my all these next few days. I will go home next week and sleep in my bed for the first time in six weeks so that’ll be nice.”

On her opening round, Korda added: “I’m very happy. Honestly we didn’t have much wind today. It was very chilly in the morning but other than that the wind kept calm and I took advantage of it.”

Calm Hall uses experience to move into contention

Back in the clubhouse after their morning starts, Korda and Sagstrom watched Kim overtake them at the top of leaderboard in the afternoon.

A brilliant run from the sixth hole saw Kim – the 2019 Women’s PGA champion – sink six birdies in the next nine holes.

A bogey on the 16th dropped her back into a four-way tie with Hall, Korda and Sagstrom, before the English player slipped back with that final bogey.

Nevertheless, Hall was pleased with a round where she sunk six birdies in between bogeys on the sixth and the last.

“I’m very happy with my round, I didn’t do a lot wrong and managed to take advantage of still conditions,” said Hall.

“You have to stay patient, you can think you’re going to make more birdies but it is not that easy. I took advantage of that on the back nine.

“The first day I try to keep as level as possible. With this course anything can happen at any hole so I try to stay as calm as I can and level as I can until that final putt drops.”

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