Defending champion Rose Zhang is the focus on the LPGA Tour after snapping Nelly Korda's streak

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — For a change, Rose Zhang is the center of attention on the LPGA Tour.

Not only is the 20-year-old the defending champion at the Mizuho Americas Open, she put an end to Nelly Korda's record-tying run of five straight tournament titles by winning for the first time in almost a year.

“Last week came a little bit unexpectedly, I think,” Zhang said of her two-shot win over Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom in the Cognizant Founders Cup. “Going into the event I haven’t had the best season yet and I’ve been learning a lot about myself, been learning a lot about my game and how I should prep.”

Zhang, who had two top 10s and two missed cuts in six events heading into last week, put it all together, shooting four rounds in the 60s. She capped it with four birdies in the final five holes in rallying from a late three-shot deficit.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really came from behind like that in any events I played in, so definitely an experience and gives me a little bit more momentum coming into this week,” Zhang said Tuesday.

In beating Jennifer Kupcho in a playoff last year, Zhang became the first player to win an LPGA event in her professional debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951.

What everyone in the field knows is that Korda is still the player to beat. The world's No. 1-ranked player has won five of the seven events she has played and tied for seventh last week.

“It’s been a wild, wild ride winning those five in a row," Korda said Wednesday. “Obviously last week played actually pretty solid golf; just Rose and Madelene I feel like played a different golf course. They played unbelievable golf, and props to Rose for winning in such an amazing fashion.”

The players are staying in New York City this week and many take the 15-minute ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty to get to the course, which has a dock.

After shooting 1 over in each of her final two rounds, Korda worked with her coaches on the course this week to tweak some things. Other than that, she's happy, healthy and enjoying golf after a couple of years marked by injuries.

“I’m human," the 25-year-old said. “I’m not going to play well every single day or every single week. Still fought it out and finished inside the top 10 on a pretty tough golf course. But this week is a new challenge.”

As opposed to the Upper Montclair Country Club, Liberty National is a bit of a links-type course. With all the recent rain in New Jersey, it's wet and there might be issues with the wind with the Hudson River adjacent to the course.

Nine of the top 10 players in the Rolex rankings are in the field with only No. 2 Lilia Vu missing. Kupcho, Sagstrom and rookie Gabriela Ruffels of Australia, who finished third last weekend, also are entered.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who won earlier this year, needs one more victory to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“I feel like if it’s meant to happen it’s going to happen,” Ko said Wednesday. “But I’m not trying to set my end goal to just be in the Hall of Fame. As long as I’m competitively playing I want to win as many times as I can and kind of surpass that and not only just look at, OK, I’m just one point away.”


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