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Rose Zhang does best Nelly Korda impression, dominates Cognizant Founders Cup

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Rose Zhang made Upper Montclair Country Club look easy as the young phenom posted a career-low on Day 1 of the Cognizant Founders Cup. She fired off a bogey-free 9-under 63 to lead the field by two shots.

That score tied the tournament record and set a new LPGA career low round after Zhang’s 65 at the Maybank Championship score last October.

“It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been able to do that,” Zhang said. “Honestly, it’s really fun. Reignites the passion to grind more and try to play better.”

The competition was fierce as Madelene Sagström set a high bar with a 7-under 65 during the morning wave. Yet, Zhang surpassed her with six holes to play, showcasing a red-hot putter.

She recorded nine birdies on her round and felt like she finally got some momentum going.

“It was almost auto-command golf,” Zhang said. “I feel like in the last couple of weeks, it’s been a little bit difficult. I’ve been struggling with the golf swing and gaining confidence in my preparation. Going into this week, I let it all go. I was able to free myself up — nice to see some shots go in, especially on the greens.”

This golf course is no slouch, and Zhang knows it. However, she hit 11-of-14 fairways and 16-of-18 greens. Her approach play was on fire. To record just 25 putts in a round was impressive for the 20-year-old.

Zhang has had an up-and-down second season, but things are slowly improving. She has two top 7’s on the season but has missed the cut in two of her last four starts.

Granted, Zhang snuck in a T5 at the T-Mobile Match Play event at Shadow Creek, but the rising star has been quiet. Finishing up at Stanford has kept her off the course, but now that school is over, it is on.

“It’s pretty big because I know that the number’s out there for me,” she said. “If I’m able to get dialed in and do what I need to — the number’s out there. I can play my own game. As long as I have that little bit of confidence, no matter what happens the next couple of days, I know that I’m going to grind it out and figure something out along the way.”

She will play at 8:10 a.m. on Friday alongside Megan Khang and Lydia Ko, as Zhang looks to keep up the pace and win her second LPGA title.

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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