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Korda wins over co-leaders Zhang and Sagstrom at Founders
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Korda wins over co-leaders Zhang and Sagstrom at Founders

Rose Zhang © Getty Images

Rose Zhang and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom will take the lead at the Cognizant Founders Cup next weekend, but Nelly Korda plans to crash the party.

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

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

Korda, however, did not make up any ground on Sagstrom, who also fired a 66 on Friday to overtake Zhang.

After going out at 5-under 31, Sagstrom had a four-hole roller coaster at numbers 10-13 – double bogey, birdie, eagle, bogey. She managed another birdie on No. 15.

“I was grinding hard. I made a big mistake on 10 by leaving it in the fairway bunker,” Sagstrom said. “Trying not to hit it thick in the water meant I was diluting it in the lip. Not great.

“It’s one of those where you’re going to make mistakes. It was just a bit of a shame that it happened when I had momentum. I got it back quickly, hit a good drive on 11, a great second shot on 11 and a good putt. The eagle at 12 is a little bonus.”

Zhang, the 20-year-old who won her professional debut last year, is chasing her second LPGA title. She piled up birdies on numbers 2, 3, 5 and 7 before a birdie and bogey on the back nine gave her a 68.

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

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 if I didn’t hit it close, my putts just scared the hole. Overall, I’m really happy with how I played today and hopefully I can carry that into the next 36 holes.”

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

Notable players who missed the 1 over par cut included Lexi Thompson (2 over), Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul (2 over) and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai (5 over).