Sagstrom seizes LPGA Founders Cup lead with sizzling 63

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Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom fired a nine-under par 63 to seize a one-stroke lead after Thursday's first round of the LPGA Founders Cup (AFP/Sarah Stier) (Sarah Stier)

Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom fired a bogey-free nine-under par 63 to grab a one-stroke lead over American Megan Khang after Thursday's opening round of the LPGA Founders Cup.

Sagstrom, last year's Women's British Open runner-up, began her round with four consecutive birdies and reeled off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, New Jersey.

That put her just ahead of Khang, who made eight birdies without a bogey in shooting 64, and Japan's Nasa Hataoka, third after a bogey-free 65.

"It was one of those days. Like everything was easy," Sagstrom said. "It's like I was hitting the fairways, hitting the greens, and I was making all the putts.

"The hole just kept growing. I told my caddie, Shane, I was like, you know, everything feels like tap-ins today.

"It's one of those days. You just trying to hold on to momentum and just keep it going."

Sagstrom, ranked 35th, followed her sizzling start with a birdie at the par-4 seventh hole then began her back-nine birdie run at the par-5 12th.

Khang, ranked 41st, had runs of four birdies in six holes on both the front and back nines, starting at the par-5 second and par-5 12th.

Sagstrom won her only LPGA crown at the 2020 Gainbridge at Boca Rio while Khang seeks her first tour title.

Hataoka didn't miss a fairway.

"My swing feels really good," she said. "I was able to hit a lot of really good shots and put them close and that allowed me to go low.

"I feel like I'm really managing my game well right now, so just kind of carry that into tomorrow's round as well."

Hataoka eagled the par-5 second and added birdies at the par-4 fourth, the par-5 ninth, 12th and 14th holes and closed with a final birdie.

"From the tee to the green everything was perfect, so I was able to get the eagle," Hataoka said.

"I was 15 of 18 for the greens, so that contributed to just carrying that momentum into having more birdies with me. I was able to stick a good one in there on the last one and walk away with birdie."

Hataoka chases her seventh career LPGA title and second of the year after winning the Los Angeles Open three weeks ago.

Sharing fourth on 66 were Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines, South Korean Amy Yang and Italy's Giulia Molinaro.

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