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World No. 1 Nelly Korda of Bradenton opens Pelican Women’s Championship tied for third

Five golfers with Florida ties finish among the top 25 on the first day of the LPGA tournament in Belleair.
Bradenton native Nelly Korda tees off on the No. 9 hole during the first round of the LPGA Pelican Women's Championship Thursday at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair.
Bradenton native Nelly Korda tees off on the No. 9 hole during the first round of the LPGA Pelican Women's Championship Thursday at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Nov. 12
Updated Nov. 12

BELLEAIR — World No. 1 Nelly Korda shot 5-under-par 65 in the opening round of the Pelican Women’s Championship Thursday at Pelican Golf Club to finish in a seven-way tie for third place.

The Bradenton native, 23, made six birdies and a bogey to end the day three strokes behind first-round leader Leona Maguire of Ireland.

Despite missing last year’s inaugural tournament due to a back injury, Korda had little trouble with the “tricky” greens in her first competitive round on the course.

“I’ve actually played this golf course before. It’s just new and was a lot firmer,” she said. “The greens are definitely more receptive now. All in all, it’s a solid golf course.

“Greens are the defense of this place, and they’re very tricky. The wind was definitely a factor (Thursday), here and there. I made key putts when I needed to and struck it quite well.”

Korda wasn’t the only Floridian who had a strong start to the tournament. Delray Beach native Lexi Thompson, ranked No. 13 in the world, also tied for third.

“(I) just tried to focus on doing my routine and sticking to the game plan coming into the week, which was play aggressive golf and just commit to my golf shots out there,” Thompson said. “Overall, I just had a great day.”

Korda’s older sister, Jessica, and Tampa resident Brittany Altomare each shot 67 to finish in a nine-way tie for 14th. Seminole native Brittany Lincicome was among 15 golfers who shot 68 to tie for 23rd.

“It just gets really, really tight around the greens and it’s soft, so it presents quite a challenge when you get into the wrong spots,” Jessica Korda said. “But other than that, I had a pretty decent day. ... I’ll take an under-par round any day of the week.”

NBC to offer live Featured Hole coverage of No. 12

Austin Ernst won a two-year lease on a Lamborghini with a hole-in-one (the fourth of her career) on hole No. 12 during Monday's pro-am.
Austin Ernst won a two-year lease on a Lamborghini with a hole-in-one (the fourth of her career) on hole No. 12 during Monday's pro-am. [ Courtesy of Austin Ernst ]

For the first time, NBC Sports is making a Featured Hole stream available for an LPGA Tour event. Every group and every shot on the No. 12 hole will stream live on Peacock’s free tier.

Any golfer who makes a hole-in-one this weekend on the par-3, 143-yard hole will receive a two-year lease on a new Lamborghini.

After teeing off, players will participate in live interviews as they make their way to the green. There will be live conversations with a variety guests throughout the weekend. Spectators can watch the action from grandstands located behind the flag pole.

Austin Ernst became the first to make a hole-in-one on No. 12 during Monday’s pro-am. It was the fourth hole-in-one of her career and the first that’s resulted in a prize. She’ll take home a blue Lamborghini after the tournament.

“I think this (hole-in-one) was the coolest,” Ernst said, chuckling, Tuesday.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

LPGA Pelican Women’s Championship

When: Thursday-Sunday

Where: Pelican Golf Club, Belleair

Purse: $1.75 million

History: Sei Young Kim won the inaugural tournament last year.

Players to watch: World No. 1 Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko (2), Sei Young Kim (4), Lydia Ko(5), Yuka Saso (6), Nasa Hataoka (8), Brooke Henderson (10), Danielle Kang (11), Patty Tavatanakit (12), Lexi Thompson (13).

Coverage: Live, 10 a.m. Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel. Live stream, 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, nbcsports.com. Taped, 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel.

Tickets: pelicanlpga.com/tickets