MANATEE -- Nelly Korda joined an elite club in 2013 when she played the U.S. Women's Open with older sister Jessica. It was only the seventh time a sister combination accomplished the feat.
On Tuesday, Nelly Korda made personal history. The 16-year-old fired a bogey-free 65, her lowest competitive round, en route to earning medalist honors at the United States Girls' Junior Championship qualifier at the 6,150-yard Palm-Aire Country Club's Champions Course.
She earned one of 10 berths awarded for the national junior girls tournament slated for July 20-25 at Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
"You want to (have) the best score possible, so that's really what motivated me, to try and beat my lowest round," said Korda, a Bradenton native who trains at IMG Academy.
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In May, Korda missed qualifying for her second U.S. Women's Open by one shot. That experience, though, was a motivator.
So Korda worked with David Whelan, her swing coach at IMG, on shorten
ing her swing and minimizing her lower-body action to improve accuracy and avoid silly mistakes.
"I've actually been hitting it farther," said Korda, who qualified for her first U.S. Girls' Junior in her first attempt. "... I used to never outdrive my sister. And now I'm outdriving her. I don't know if she's not hitting it well, but I was outdriving her."
In Tuesday's round, Korda got going early and often. She birdied three straight holes to open the round and four of the first six holes en route to a 32 on the front nine.
The par-4 third hole, measuring 379 yards, saw Korda escape from trouble when she smacked a 6-iron below one tree and over another to within 15 feet of the pin.
"It was a cool trick shot there," she said.
Prior to Tuesday's seven-birdie performance, Korda finished runner-up at the American Junior Golf Association's Rolex Girls Junior Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. held June 8-12.
The final round in that tournament was also a bogey-free day, and Korda kept that streak intact in Tuesday's qualifier.
"That's why we work so hard, that's why we're out there so long, to have these kind of results," Korda said. "It feels good to finally be rewarded with it."
No other Manatee County players qualified at the lone Florida qualifier for the U.S. Girls' Junior.
Seminole's Alyssa Lamoureux (69), Windermere's Morgan Baxendale (69), Puerto Rico's Diana Camila Velez (69), Sebring's Kendall Griffin (70), Orlando's Kelsey Zeng (72), Melbourne's Sophie Liu (72), Boynton Beach's Zora Gittens (72), Winter Haven's Athena Yang (73) and Auburndale's Shelby Brauckmuller (73) picked up the remaining qualifying berths.
"This is my first year (qualifying)," Lamoureux said. "I am really excited."
Lamoureux had never played the course prior to Sunday's practice round, despite living about an hour away.
"I came in pretty confident and made a couple putts," she said.