Golf: Scottie Blows in Leaders’ Neck; Nelly, Buhai jumps away well

Henry

The world’s leading men’s and women’s golfers both got off to solid starts on Thursday in their pursuit of continued success.

Scottie Scheffler and Nelly Korda have their sights set on three wins in a row on the US PGA and LPGA Series, respectively.

The 27-year-old Scheffler is just a single shot behind the leaders after day one of the Texas Children’s Houston Open, while the 25-year-old Korda in Phoenix, Arizona is three shots behind the leader after the first round of the Ford Championship.

Scheffler walked away with the laurels in his last two appearances in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Tournament, as well as in the prestigious Players Championship.

Both tournaments were in Florida.

In her last two appearances in Florida and Los Angeles respectively, Korda was boss in the Drive On Championship and Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship.

*Scheffler showed signs of rust Thursday on the Memorial Park course after not picking up a golf club for four days the previous week.

“I spent some time with my family and didn’t really train. It took a few holes before I found my rhythm again,” said Scheffler after his flawless performance of 65 shots (-5).

He ended up scoring two birdies over his first nine and three over his second nine holes after having to chip and putt each time in the first three holes to save score after lopsided approaches.

Scheffler’s putting iron was again blazing hot like last time and he only needed 25 strokes on the first day to see him move into third place on the leaderboard.

Americans Taylor Moore and Wilson Furr are the leaders at -6, with Joe Highsmith and Davis Riley boasting along with Scheffler at -5.

South Africa’s Garrick Higgo (68) can feel satisfied with his start, but for Dawie van der Walt (76) it was a day of great disappointment.

He turned in at +6 and fell back to +8 before finishing with two birdies. However, his chances of escaping the ax on Friday are zero.

The last player to complete a hat-trick of victories on the American PGA Series was Rory McIlroy who accomplished this in 2016.

*Korda is at -6 in joint ninth place after Thailand’s Pijara Anannarukan brought the Seville golf course to its knees with a stunning score of 63 (-9).

Where the playing conditions were grueling in Los Angeles last week, on Thursday it was almost perfect.

“It was much easier today (yesterday) than last week when we were tested to the limit. The greens are soft after all the rain that has fallen lately, so you can play much more aggressively,” Korda said afterwards.

She will become the first player since Ariya Jutanugarn (2016) to win three times in a row should she prevail on Sunday.

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai is also firmly in the race for success after starting with a 66 like Korda.

Over her final ten holes, Buhai dropped six shots to par with four birdies and an eagle after starting with eight consecutive figures.

Paula Reto also flew the SA flag with a good 69 (-3) which included four birdies and one bogey.