Nelly Korda was not even three holes into the US Women’s Open when she dropped to a crouch and bowed her head in disbelief after her third straight shot — all of them from inside 70 feet away — tumbled into a stream.

She walked off the par-3 12th hole at Lancaster Country Club with a 10.

It didn’t get much better from there.

“Making a 10 on a par 3 will definitely not do you any good at a US Open,” Korda said when her nightmare start to the biggest championship in women’s golf ended with an 80.

“Just a bad day in the office.”

Korda came into the US Women’s Open as an overwhelming favourite, with six victories in her last seven tournaments, including a major that tied an LPGA record for five wins in a row.

That’s what made the most imperfect 10 so shocking.

Australian Minjee Lee avoided the trouble that beset Korda’s disastrous day. 

Golfer Minjee Lee hits a tee shot at the US Women's Open.

Minjee Lee scored an even-par 70 on the opening day of play at the US Open. (Getty Images: Sarah Stier)

The world number nine finished with an even-par 70 in her drive for a third major victory. 

Sarah Kemp and tennis player-turned-golfer Gabriella Ruffels are the next-best placed Australians at five-over par, one shot ahead of world number five Hannah Green

Japan’s Yuka Saso leads the field after the opening round at two-under. 

The disaster hole

There were ominous signs from the moment Nelly Korda approached what would become her infamous par three. 

It didn’t help that two groups were on the tee at the 161-yard 12th hole — Korda had about a 25-minute wait — and she watched trouble unfold before she pulled a club. 

In the group ahead, Gaby Lopez came up short of the water. Ingrid Lindblad’s tee shot rolled into the water.

Korda curiously chose 6-iron — most players not as long as her hit 7-iron — and it took a hard hop into a back bunker. And then the trouble began.

Korda said she had a leaf under her golf ball, and the bunker shot came out a little hot and rolled — and rolled — past the front pin, off the false front and disappeared into the stream.

“Couldn’t really do anything about that,” she said. “Yeah, just hit some really bad chips, over and over again.”

She played a low pitch up the slope, but it banged into the hill and rolled back down into the water. She took another penalty drop, played another low pitch that was only slightly better, still not nearly enough to avoid rolling back into the water.

Loading Twitter content

She got it right the third time, only to miss an 8-foot putt and take septuple-bogey 10. 

Korda walked off the green, removed her visor and placed her hand over her forehead for a few seconds, then headed to the 13th tee.

A video crew kept the camera fixed on the walking scorer as “+1” was changed to a “+8” next to her name.

She still had 15 holes ahead of her on a course that didn’t present a lot of scoring chances. Only three players from the morning wave broke par at 1-under 69. Her objective?

“I just didn’t really want to shoot 80,” Korda said. “And I just kept making bogeys.”

It was her second straight round of 80 in the US Women’s Open, separated by 11 months and some 3,000 miles — Korda shot 80 in the final round at Pebble Beach last summer.

The only higher rounds in her career were 81 — one at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship when she was 15, the other at the 2013 US Women’s Open at age 14.

Loading Twitter content

It turns out the disaster par three was only the start of her problems. 

She laid up in the rough on the par-5 13th and had to two-putt from 55 feet for par. She missed a 3-foot par putt on the 15th and a 5-foot par putt on the 17th.

Korda didn’t make her first birdie until her 12th hole, No. 3, when she holed a 12-foot putt and smiled with a mock celebration. Two holes later, however, she missed a 4-foot par putt and then nearly found the water on the par-3 sixth, leading to bogey.

She finished with an approach up the hill to the ninth that left her 55 feet away with a fast putt to a front pin. She ran that 12 feet by and missed for her sixth bogey, to go along with one septuple bogey on a hole where she left her mark for all the wrong reasons.

“I’m human,” Korda said. 

“I’m going to have bad days. I played some really solid golf up to this point. Today was just a bad day. That’s all I can say.”

Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Saturday.