Nelly Korda dunks 3 in water, makes 10 in shocking U.S. Women’s Open start

nelly korda crouches in heartbreak at the u.s. women's open

Nelly Korda put three balls in the water on the 12th hole to make a leaderboard-sliding 10.


LANCASTER, Pa. — The golf world has been watching Nelly Korda’s actions with great intrigue over the last six months, and for good reason. Korda has been riding one of the biggest heaters in the history of women’s golf, winning six of her last seven starts and establishing a gulf between her and the next-best player in the world.

The golf world was also watching Nelly Korda’s actions with great intrigue on Thursday morning at the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club, but for a markedly different reason. Korda had just carded one of the most shocking scores of her professional golf career — a septuple-bogey 10 on the par-3 12th — to put her bid at a first-career U.S. Open title on life support just minutes into the tournament.

The disaster came on a 161-yard par-3 that’s playing as the toughest on the course through the early going. After blowing her tee shot long, Korda hit three straight shots into the creek running across the front of the green, then missed a putt to walk away with a seven-over 10.

As two consecutive 30-yard chips rolled back into the water in front of the green, Korda looked on in disbelief, shielding her head in her hands and, at one point, dropping to a defeated crouch. When it was over, she’d dropped to eight over for the championship, 10 shots back of the lead and suddenly needing a charge to keep her hopes of reaching the weekend alive.

Korda herself intimated earlier in the week that the 12th could be a terrifying spot for the field. The hole is one of the trickier tee shots at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, with the green sitting just above a sloping false front leading into the water.

“From the tee box you can’t see how sloped of a green that is, but then once you get onto that green you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re coming in with a 6-iron,'” Korda said Tuesday. “If you’re long, in a sense, you’re kind of screwed. If you’re short, you’re screwed, too. So making sure you’re just hitting the greens out here this week, because they’re so small and so undulated, is going to be key.”

With winds swirling on Thursday morning, Korda did exactly what she knew she couldn’t, flying her tee shot into the bunker long. When she caught her shot from the sand too cleanly, she watched helplessly as it trickled into the creek. The next two chips looked harmless enough, but Korda caught both a little too heavy, sending them spinning into the false front and back down to the creek.

The good news — if there is good news — is that the septuple came very early into the tournament, just three holes into Korda’s opening round. With Lancaster CC once again proving to be a formidable test for the best in the world, there’s ample time to get her score back down to a couple over, which may be enough to stay in the conversation.

But that’s assuming she’s able to forget the disaster on 12 quickly. As anyone who’s ever carded a double-digit score knows, that’s no easy task, even for the best in the world.

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at

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