Sagstrom takes one-shot lead at LPGA Founders Cup

- Tom Canavan

CLIFTON, N.J. – Madelene Sagstrom shot a flawless 9-under 63 during a round she felt holes kept getting larger to take a one-stroke lead over Megan Khang after the first round of the Cognizant Founders Cup on Thursday.

Nasa Hataoka, who won in Los Angeles in April before taking time off, was third after a 65 on the Upper Montclair Country Club course.

Bianca Pagdangana­n, Amy Yang and Giulia Molinaro were tied for fourth at 66, a shot ahead of group that included Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee. Twotime defending champion and topranked Jin Young Ko shot 69.

Sagstrom, a runner-up last year in the Women’s British Open, made birdies in batches, finishing with nine in a bogey-free round. The two-time European Solheim Cup player from Sweden birdied the first four holes and had another run at Nos. 12-14.

“It was one of those days,” Sagstrom said. “Like everything was easy. It’s like I was hitting the fairways, hitting the greens, and I was making all the putts. The hole just kept growing.”

The event honors the 13 founding members of the LPGA tour.

Stricker atop Regions Tradition

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Steve Stricker shot 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez and Wes Short Jr. after the first round of the Regions Tradition, the first of five PGA Tour Champions majors.

Stricker, the 2019 champion, closed his bogey-free round with a birdie on No. 18 at Greystone Golf & Country Club. Jimenez, the 2018 winner, started on the 10th tee and broke out of a 10-player logjam at 4 under with a birdie on No. 8. Short joined him at 67 with a birdie on 18, his sixth along with one bogey.

Stricker, captain of the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits last year, certainly played like the guy who had excelled on recent trips to Birmingham. He lost on the first hole of a playoff last year to Alex Cejka and had a health scare that sidelined him for six months. Stricker was hospitaliz­ed for nearly two weeks and dropped 25 pounds. “You know, it’s great to be out here playing again is my mentality,” he said. “I have a little different perspectiv­e after going through what I went through.”

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