Nerdy Nelly Korda looking to figure out the funky Evian Championship major test

Fresh from landing her first Major Championship victory last month the American is keen to challenge on a course that has always got the best of her.

Nelly Korda has cleared pretty much every obstacle she's faced in 2021.

The 22-year-old leads the LPGA scoring averages for the year.

She's made more birdies and sub-70 scores than anyone else.

She's claimed two regular wins.

A first Major Championship victory.

And she's reached No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings.

Her next challenge? She's just purchased a new gaming laptop and is playing Call of Duty, but it's not that.

Nor is it card games. "I really like those," she said ahead of the fourth Major of the year. "Complete nerd coming out in me right now."

Instead, her geeky side has a different riddle to unravel: fathoming the 18 holes which host the Evian Championship and which often resemble the board game Mousetrap.

She's played the tournament three times, has made the top 60 just once, and is yet to land a top 20.

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The good news is that she ranked third for Greens in Regulation on her last visit, but the putting surfaces have never been anything other than a mystery to her.

"I would say they're kind of funky, very difficult, a lot of ridges," she said. "I think that's the golf course's defence, especially if they get firm and fast. They're very tricky."

Many would argue that the funkiness is not merely at the end of each hole, but extends back toward every tee box.

The Alpine mountains-and-lakes backdrop of the course is majestic - "nothing can beat it," said Korda - but there's an undeniable awkwardness about the test.

"The more you play out here, the more you learn about where to hit it and whatnot," she said. "You can hit good shots and you get a really bad bounce and you're just in an impossible position.

"You can also hit a bad shot and it trickles up there and you sink it for birdie. So it's more of just like a mental aspect and also just knowing where to miss.

"It's definitely a big goal to contend so just trying to figure it out a little bit more each year helps."

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Since the tournament became a Major in 2013 it has twice been reduced to 54 holes because of poor weather in its original September slot.

Incredibly, the wet conditions have followed the event into high summer.

"They had a lot of rain last week," Korda said. "It's a lot softer than typically and the rough is thick. That's going to play a huge part, hitting fairways."

One element of this week won't faze her: going into her first Major as the World No. 1.

"I don't think it changes my game," she said. "It's a cool feeling. I'm very proud of it. Every week I go into a tournament with a new mindset. It doesn't matter the ranking."

Nelly Korda 9/1 to win with PlanetSportBet

Let's take a look at four other big stories ahead of Thursday's first round.

Matilda on a mission

Six weeks ago even confirmed fans of the Solheim Cup, asked which Matilda would storm into the team this September, might have floundered before gasping "Waltzing" or "Roald Dahl's".

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True, Matilda Castren had won on the second tier late last year but even that came out of the blue - she had a best of T19th in three seasons of action before that.

But she won the LPGA's Mediheal Championship last month, was second in the Volunteers of American Classic, and she was suddenly in an astounding position: quite clearly the in-form European, equally obviously someone the team desperately needed, and yet not an LET member and therefore ineligible even for a captain's pick.

She suddenly had four LET events to play and needed to win one. Anything less and she'd be watching on TV. She promptly went home to Finland and won the Gant Open. Superb stuff.

Matilda Castren to win 30/1 with PlanetSportBet

I Should Ko-Ko

With Korda having had a sticky time of it at Evian some might argue that Jin Young Ko really ought to be the favourite.

She was the winner of the last edition, in 2019, and she also won last time out in the Volunteers of American Classic.

She likes a course that favours a neat and tidy game from the tee - which is exactly what Evian calls for. Ko even said two years ago that the test resembles those she regularly faces on hilly Korean courses.

Jin Young Ko to win 10/1 with PlanetSportBet

Park the bus

Inbee Park's capacity to log top 10 finishes in the Majors is just extraordinary.

In all, she's landed 35 of them in 63 starts.

Recently she's done even better: seven in her last 10 starts.

And at Evian, since it became a Major? Four in five!

Sneaky form

There are three LET golfers who will be happy to return to Evian, which hosts a small-scale regular tour event in addition to this week's championship.

Promising Czech performer Pia Babnik won there this year and her fellow teenager Atthaya Thitikul was tied sixth.

The latter is feared by the bookies, but they offer value on Germany's Olivia Cowan.

She was fourth at Evian last year and third this May. Both times she's landed lots of greens in regulation and that really matters on the course. Moreover, it's a part of her game in great nick at the moment.

She struggled as a youngster in her Major debut in the States, and also on the linksland in the AIG Women's Open, but she was T29th at Woburn in 2019 and is a better golfer than two years ago.

READ MORE: Three punter's pointers for the 3M Open

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