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May 10, 2024 7:17 pm

Nelly Korda gaining on co-leaders Zhang, Sagstrom at Founders

nelly korda

Rose Zhang and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom will carry the lead at the Cognizant Founders Cup into the weekend, but Nelly Korda intends on crashing the party.

Zhang and Sagstrom are tied at 13-under 131 after two trips around Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J., and Korda is the only player within six shots of them. Korda posted a bogey-free, 6-under 66 Friday to get to 9 under, four off the pace.

Korda is vying to break an LPGA record by winning her sixth start in a row. She shares the record streak of five with legends Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez.

Korda, however, made up no ground on Sagstrom, who also fired a 66 Friday to catch up to Zhang.

After going out in 5-under 31, Sagstrom had a rollercoaster four-hole stretch at Nos. 10-13 – double bogey, birdie, eagle, bogey. She managed to tack on one more birdie at No. 15.

“I grinded hard. I made a big mistake on 10 by leaving it in the fairway bunker,” Sagstrom said. “Trying not to hit it fat in the water meant I thinned it into the lip. Not great.

“It’s one of those like you’re going to make mistakes. It was just a bit unfortunate happening when I was having momentum. Got it back quickly hit a good drive on 11, great second shot on 11, and a good putt. The eagle on 12 is a little bit of a bonus.”

Zhang, the 20-year-old who won her professional debut last year, is hunting for her second LPGA title. She piled up birdies at Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 7 before a birdie and bogey on the back nine left her with a 68.

“It was grueling out there,” Zhang said. “I felt like conditions were drastically different from (Thursday), but I was able to really just keep myself in there and hit the shots I need to do to stabilize myself. And was able to make some clutch par putts, which it’s crucial out here to be able to (do).”

Then there was Korda, who birdied four of her first seven holes – including three par-4s – before sinking birdie putts at Nos. 14 and 18.

“I mean, gosh, I putted really well today,” Korda said. “Even when I didn’t hit it close my putts just scared the hole. Overall very pleased with how I played today and hopefully I can take that into the next 36 holes.”

Yan Liu of China shot 70 and is alone in fourth at 6 under. Mel Reid of England is fifth at 5 under after an even-par 72. A 10-player tie for sixth at 4 under includes the likes of New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (71) and Australians Minjee Lee (70) and Hannah Green (71), who was last week’s winner in Los Angeles while Korda took the week off.

Notables missing the cut of 1 over par included Lexi Thompson (2 over), Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul (2 over) and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai (5 over).

–Field Level Media

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