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Nelly Korda chase for 6 crumbles, Rose Zhang in 2-woman race at Cognizant Founders Cup

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There will be a new winner on Sunday at the LPGA’s Cognizant Founders Cup not named Nelly Korda. Barring unforeseen history, it will be the first time since the Tournament of Champions in January that Korda did not win a tournament she played in.

Let that sink in.

Korda entered the week having won five straight tournaments. She was tied with Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam for the most in LPGA history. Six would have set a new record.

Instead, the Cup is a two-woman race between young phenom Rose Zhang and Swedish veteran Madelene Sagstrom.

Korda is in a three-way tie for third place after a 1-over 73 on Saturday, which put her at 8-under for the tournament.

Yet, she sits 11 shots off Sagstrom and 10 behind Zhang. Safe to say that Korda will not win six straight.

The top player in the world struggled on the front nine. She went out in 38 strokes, recording four bogeys and two birdies. Things improved on the back nine, but Korda only added one birdie to her scorecard.

“Just made too many stupid, silly mistakes, which was unfortunate because they were playing so well,” Korda said. “Now there is a massive gap. It was one of those days where it felt like a constant battle and didn’t play too well, but I fought until the end.”

Things did not go Korda’s way Saturday, but the two on top continued to dominate the Upper Montclair Country Club track.

Zhang posted a 5-under 67 Saturday to sit at 18-under, one shot behind Sagstrom, who fired off a 6-under 66.

These two have been fighting for the top spot all week, making the Sunday storyline about themselves.

It is quite rare to have two competitors 10 clear of the field entering a final round. That goes for the LPGA, PGA Tour, any tour.

“I was seeing a clinic put on by Madelene. We had a good time,” Zhang said. “We were having small talks, and it was just an enjoyable time to play well and have each other’s company. I’ve always admired Madelene’s game. She’s been out here for a while and is a veteran, so I am trying to learn and see how she’s doing it.”

This week has been huge for Zhang’s confidence. After struggling this season, the 20-year-old has finally started to see the fruits of her labor pay off.

“It’s honestly so nice — finally saw some putts drop,” Zhang said. “I think it was such a blast to see my shots and be able to hit whatever I could and commit to everything. Seeing it come to fruition leaves me very satisfied. No matter what happens tomorrow, I have this little spark of I’ve got some good rounds in competitively, and I can move forward with that.”

She is eying her second career LPGA win as the Stanford Cardinal approaches her first anniversary since turning pro. Zhang will have to outplay a red-hot Sagstrom but will still keep a simple game plan for Sunday.

“I’m going to come out here and play my best, do my best,” Zhang said. “Whatever I have, I’ll just use it, and we’ll see how far it gets me. I think the most important thing for me is to try to relax, enjoy the moment, enjoy the shots I’m hitting. If the ball works, it works. If it doesn’t, we still have lots of room to improve. By all means, I’m not done; I’ve only started.”

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.



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