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Korda plagued by "stupid, silly mistakes" in third round of Cognizant

Nelly Korda hits a tee shot during the third round of the 2024 Cognizant Founders Cup. Photos by Maryann Harlow Nelly Korda hits a tee shot during the third round of the 2024 Cognizant Founders Cup.
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CLIFTON _ Nelly Korda had an ultra tough day, citing "stupid, silly mistakes" as the reasons behind her subpar, uncharacteristic third round at the Cognizant Founders Cup.

It was an inopportune time for Korda, angling to claim a record-breaking sixth consecutive LPGA Tour title, to have to endure 18 holes in which little went right. The world's No. 1 female golfer shot a 73 - 1-over par - on a day when Madelene Sagstrom and Rose Zhang were soaring.

Korda, close to flawless since claiming the LPGA Drive On Championship in her hometown on Jan. 28, was inconsistent en route to shooting a 73. She did not play like the world's top-ranked female golfer, finding bunkers and hitting drives wide. Her short game, typically solid, was off, too.

While Korda, whose fifth championship in a row tied a feat accomplished by Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam, struggled on Saturday, May 11 at Upper Montclair Country Club, Sagstrom and Zhang had exceptional showings. Sagstrom finished with a 66 for a three-day score of 197. Zhang carded a 67 and followed with a 198.

"It's just kind of poor in all aspects," said Korda, 11 strokes off the lead and facing a seemingly impossible task. "Yesterday was good in everything and today was poor in everything. That's just pretty much golf for you. I just made too many kind of stupid, silly mistakes, which was unfortunate because they were playing so well. So now there is just a massive gap."

Four bogeys on the front nine, including one on the opening hole, marred Korda's third round. She wound up in the sand on No. 1 then left herself with a long putt by htiting to the back of the green. She left that putt two feet short and sank another putt for bogey. The other bogeys were on holes 5, 7 and 9. She needed three putts to close out the seventh hole. On No. 9, Korda had to hit out of the rough and another out from the bunker was required.

Over the final nine holes, Korda, who ended a streak of 73 of 21 consecutive rounds beating the field scoring average with a 73, had eight pars and a birdie, keeping her in contention. Sort of.

"I think I've played really good golf the past couple months," Korda said. "I'm human so I'm going to have bad days. I'm not going to feel 100 percent out here mentally, physically, or whatever, but I'm going to give it my all. It was just one of those days where it felt like a constant battle and didn't really play too well but I fought until the end."

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Swede, and Zhang were in their own little bubble. Sagstrom, whose last tour victory was in 2020, is fond of the tree-lined UMCC tract and noted how important it is to launch accurate tee shots and stay out of the rough. She rolled along, penciling in six birdies and playing very controlled, precise golf.

"I thought I was going to make everything today," Sagstrom said. "I looked at everything (told myself) 'Oh, this is going in, This is going in.' I felt like there was a lot of movement in my body when they were hitting the edges. I felt so like in sync with my speed. It's been great so everything looked like they were going in. Burning edged all day long.

"It's a nice feeling knowing wherever I am on the green I have a chance to make birdie, which kind of relaxes the rest of game a little bit. (My caddie) Shane (Codd) was like 'We just need to hit the green and I can figure it out from there.'"

The assessments were all right on. Sagstrom stayed out of trouble and took the lead on the eighth hole with an eight-foot putt. 

"When you always play with good players and somebody that's playing well, I mean, I kind I felt like we kind of fed off each other all day," Sagstrom said. "She was hitting good shots and I was I hitting good shots. She was hitting good putts and I was hitting good putts.

"It's nice playing with people that are playing well. I felt like I gave myself a fair bit of chances, not crazy close to the hole, but a lot of putts looked really, really good."

Zhang posted seven birdies and had two bogeys. She nearly closed out with an eighth birdie but missed the putt. The miss left her one back of Sagstrom instead of tied with her. Zhang attributes some of her success to watching other golfers, especially more experienced ones.

"It's a little bit difficult to ask questions obviously to your competitors but I think for me, I just observe what they do and how they act," Zhang said. "I think there is a difference between young, fresh energy versus veteran energy, and Madelene shows she's very comfortable around these areas and being on top of the leaderboard.

"So it was more so just me looking at that and putting it in the back of my head. I think no matter what, even five years forward, I'm still going to be trying to learn. That's how you really try to progress."

***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***

Last modified onFriday, 17 May 2024 11:51
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