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May 12, 2024 5:35 pm

Rose Zhang rallies to win Founders Cup for second LPGA title

rose zhang

Rose Zhang birdied four of her last five holes to overtake Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom and win her second LPGA title at the Cognizant Founders Cup on Sunday in Clifton, N.J.

Zhang, 20, posted a 6-under 66 in her final round to reach 24-under 264 at Upper Montclair Country Club, two better than Sagstrom, who carded a 69 Sunday. The pair ran away from the pack on the weekend, as Australia’s Gabriela Ruffels (71) was a distant third at 9 under.

Zhang’s triumph ended Nelly Korda’s personal five-tournament winning streak. Korda was trying to become the first player in LPGA history to win six consecutive starts, but she posted 73 for the second straight day and tied for seventh at 7 under.

“I’m still shaking right now,” Zhang said. “I think I never gave up. I always knew I had something in me to just grind it out, enjoy the time.”

Sagstrom began the day with a one-shot lead and recovered from an opening bogey by birdieing four of her next seven holes. Zhang only went 2 under par on the front nine, and when Sagstrom added a birdie at No. 12 to Zhang’s par, the Swede led by three.

But Sagstrom would not birdie again, playing her final six holes in 1 over par. Zhang got off the schneid by making a 4 at the par-5 14th, then sticking her tee shot at the par-3 15th a few feet from the pin to set up another birdie.

After Sagstrom bogeyed the 16th to create a tie for the lead, Zhang took advantage and finished birdie-birdie.

“It almost felt like match play,” said Zhang, who won her professional debut 11 months ago in nearby Jersey City. “I was telling my dad in the car (Saturday) that I played her at Solheim Cup last year and I knew she was a solid player. No matter what anyone else says, I know she can rise to the occasion no problem. So I had to really stay patient and find it in me to get it done.”

Sagstrom, ranked No. 62 in the world, was also looking for her second career LPGA victory Sunday.

“Just being in this position, this is what we all trying to do. We’re trying to feel these nerves,” the 31-year-old said. “I was nervous today. I chunked a chip on 1. Just pure nerves.

“I think you’re not going to learn by not being here. And I mean, I played unbelievable golf this week. We’re the only two that’s been really low. I have to look at the positive. … My time will come.”

Korda was in the mix after the first two rounds, trailing 36-hole co-leaders Zhang and Sagstrom by only four. But after an up-and-down Saturday, Korda managed just two bogeys and a birdie amid 15 pars Sunday.

Her five-tournament winning streak tied Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam as the longest in LPGA history.

“Hasn’t even sunk in. Probably maybe now or maybe in like 10, 15 years it’ll sink in,” Korda said. “Hopefully someone beats (the record) one day.

“But just to do that with all the competition out here is super, super rewarding with how much work that I’ve put in. So I think to get a streak like that in any sport in general is amazing with the amount of talent that I feel like every athlete has in their sport.”

–Field Level Media

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