Ross Zhang sets career-low round in first round of Cognizant Founders Cup | LPGA

Nearly a year after turning professional, Rose Zhang checked a new career milestone off her list, posting her lowest round on the LPGA Tour at the Cognizant Founders Cup on Thursday.

Zhang started his day in the afternoon wave and wasted no time in recording two birdies on two of his first three holes. She rattled off four straight birdies to finish at the front, putting her squarely at the top of the leaderboard chasing the leading Swede, at 7-under. After making the turn, she made two more birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 before closing out her day with a final birdie to take a two-stroke lead over Sackstrom.

„It’s almost an auto-command kind of golf,” Zhang said. „I feel like it’s been a little bit tougher the last couple of weeks. I’ve been struggling a little bit with the golf swing and I’ve gotten a little bit more confident in my preparation. But going into this week, I’m going to let it all go; let the expectations go a little bit more. I’ve been able to loosen up a little bit, especially on some of the greens.” It was great to see the scenes go by and I was able to get some momentum going, which was great.

Not only was her lowest round on the LPGA Tour under 9, she also tied the 18-hole tournament scoring record at Upper Montclair Country Club in 2022 set by Athaya Didikul, Sackstrom and Minjee Lee. Zhang was also one of the six players. Cognizant may go bogeyless in the opening round of the Founders Cup.

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Thanks to a bogey-free start with three birdies and an eagle, Sackstrom reached the leaderboard early. A bogey on the back-nine holes was the lone blemish on her scorecard, but she carded three straight birdies to put her in contention. The Swede has a relationship with Upper Montclair Country Club, finishing 10th and tied for third in his last two starts at the tournament.

„Probably — everything always comes together, doesn’t it?” Sagstrom said. „This golf course suits my eye first. I’ve been playing a little bit of ball flight. My coach Hans is in town. He’s also in his third year here. We love the golf course. If I hit it straight off the tee, it works well for me. The putting is great. You have to putz. For some reason I see the readings on these greens. You don’t get to see any of the places. It’s a good pace. You want to go back to the place where you really enjoy it. I’m staying with a great host family this week and I think it adds up.I know I’m going to have a good time with Shane. Everything. Good memories.”

Three players are tied for third place at 6-under. Ireland’s Leona Maguire birdied the second hole of the day before recovering and going bogey-free with seven birdies the rest of the way. Narin An tied for the most birdies in the opening round with nine, sharing the honor with first-round leader Zhang. Aussie Stephanie Griago shared a similar card with Maguire, an early bogey being the only mistake with seven birdies on the day.

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Rolex Women’s World No. 1 Nelly Gorda finished her Day 3 T18, looking to make her first cut at Upper Montclair Country Club in her second start at the event. Defending champion Jin Young Ko finished the T70 at even par. Laura Wearn and Sophia Schubert finished T48 and T89, respectively, in Monday’s qualifying round. Sponsor Invite Bailey Schumacher (a) won his first-round T119 and the John Shippen Cognizant Cup, with Ashley Shaw shooting a 73 on Monday to earn a spot in the field with an 81.

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