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Rose Zhang opens with 9-under 63

Rose Zhang opens with 9-under 63

Rose Zhang, almost a year after winning in her LPGA debut, is shaping into the role of spoiler this week.

Zhang shot a 9-under 63 in the first round of the 2024 Cognizant Founders Cup to take a two-shot lead after 18 holes at Upper Montclair Country Club, located about 18 miles from the site of that maiden victory last season at the Mizuho Americas Open, which is next week’s event on the LPGA.

It’s far from over, but Zhang is up six on Nelly Korda, who opened with a 3-under 69. Korda, of course, is seeking an LPGA-record sixth straight start. LPGA legends Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez are the only others to have ever won five consecutive starts.

As for Zhang, after that maiden victory, it’s taken some time for win No. 2.

“It’s been a really interesting journey for me,” she said. “I think the first couple months that I was out here it was very adrenaline-based where I was just living the life and kind of going out, having a lot of fun, no expectations, just learning and taking everything in.”

FOUNDERS CUP: Photo gallery

Then Zhang tipped her cap to Korda and the potential history to be made this week in Clifton, New Jersey.

“I just want to reiterate, it’s so hard winning out here on tour,” Zhang said. “What Nelly is doing is something quite unheard of, and only two other players have done it before.”

Zhang’s bogey-free round bested the morning wave 65 that was posted by Madelene Sagstrom, who had six birdies and an eagle to go along with just one bogey.

Narin An, Leona Maguire and Stephanie Kyriacou are tied for third at 6 under. There are 10 golfers tied at 4 under before a group of 18 golfers that Korda is apart of at 3 under. Lydia Ko is among those in that cluster. Ko is one point away from clinching a spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame. One more win will punch that ticket.

Five days ago, Zhang joined Michelle Wie West at Yankee Stadium to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Next week, she’ll look to defend her lone LPGA title at Liberty National Golf Course.

But first things first: another 18 holes Friday at the Founders Cup.

“I think as long as I have that little bit of confidence, no matter what happens the next couple days, I know that I’m going to be able to grind it out and figure something out along the way.”


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