Nelly Korda's historic LPGA win streak ends at 7 tournaments as Rose Zhang wins Founders Cup


Nelly Korda's historic winning streak on the LPGA Tour has officially ended at the Cognizant Founders Cup, but one of the fastest-rising stars in the women's game is back on top: 20-year-old Rose Zhang.

Zhang defeated Madeleine Sagstrom in a back-and-forth two-horse race at Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey on Sunday. Starting the first day with the lead, Zhang rallied back from a three-stroke deficit after Sagstrom carded 3-under 33 on the front nine. According to athletic According to statistics contributor Justin Ray, Zhang's probability of victory on the 14th hole of the Tillinghast course was nine percent.

But the Stanford product – still enrolled as a student and pursuing his communications degree – defied that statistic, making four birdies on his final five holes to win by two.

Zhang holed a 10-foot birdie putt at the last and edged out Sagstrom with a bogey-free 66, claiming her second LPGA victory. The dramatic finish came just shy of the anniversary of Zhang's first LPGA win at the Mizuho US Open, where she entered the winner's circle in her tour debut. Since that win, Zhang has finished in the top-10 six times but has struggled to top the leaderboard as she struggles to adjust to life as a professional. On Sunday he again found his winning ways.

“I'm still shaking,” Zhang said. “I guess I never gave up. I always knew there was something inside me that I could improve and enjoy time.”

Known as one of the most dominant players in women's amateur golf history, Zhang has again shown why she will be a force in the professional game for years to come. And she did so in front of the founders of the LPGA, including pioneers Beth Daniel and Pat Bradley, to whom the tournament is dedicated.

“I don't think they get enough recognition for what Beth and Pat have done for the game, for the LPGA. …It's honestly an honor to be able to play in front of them, let alone win,” Zhang said. “I am very grateful that they have all come here to support the players. Whatever they do – it goes unnoticed.”

Zhang has competed with Sagstrom before. Last year, the two met twice in both four-ball and four-ball matches at the Solheim Cup in Andalusia, Spain.

“It almost felt like playing a match,” Zhang said. “I was telling my dad in the car yesterday that I played with him at the Solheim Cup last year. I knew she was a solid player, no matter what anyone said. I know she can handle the opportunity without any problems, so I have to be really patient and find the strength in me to pull it off.”

With Zhang at the helm, Korda's incredible LPGA win streak is cut short. Korda would have broken the record with a win at the Founders Cup, tying Nancy Lopez and Annika Sörenstam as the only players to win five tournaments in five starts. The world No. 1 came into a tie for seventh place, shooting rounds of 69-66-73-73 for a tournament total of 7 under par. Zhang and Sagstrom separated themselves from the field over the weekend, opening a gap of more than 10 shots between second and third place.

The LPGA continues its New Jersey swing next week at Liberty National – where Zhang has her first win – and Korda will look to reclaim her spot at the top. But Zhang's momentum will make for an exciting story throughout the season, no matter the outcome.

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