During a warm and sunny second round at the 2023 Cognizant Founders Cup, two players rose to take the lead at Upper Montclair Country Club.
With eight birdies and just one bogey, Sarah Kemp jumped from a tie for 30th after round one to the co-lead with a second-round 65. The 37-year-old Australian started her day with three consecutive birdies on her first three holes, ultimately carding a 31 on her front nine. She then added three birdies and one bogey on the back nine, finishing with the second-lowest second-round score of her LPGA Tour career.
“The three birdies was awesome. I just started hitting it good. I had a good warmup. Felt like it was going to be a pretty good day,” said Kemp, who is looking for the first victory of her 16-year LPGA Tour career. “Just hitting fairways and greens, and, yeah, just happened to go in really early on, so it was a nice trend to the day.”
Kemp heads into the weekend atop the leaderboard alongside Korean superstar Jin Young Ko, currently No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Ko, was T3 after a first round 68, started her day with a steady string of pars in her first eight holes. The two-time Cognizant Founders Cup champion made her first birdie on the ninth hole, followed by a pair of birdies on 11 and 12. Ko capped off her bogey-free round with a birdie on the par-4 18th hole.
“It was awesome. I had a great round today, also yesterday, too,” said Ko, already a winner in 2023 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. “I tried to make a bogey-free round, and I made it.”
Three players are tied for third at -7, just one shot behind co-leaders Kemp and Ko. Aditi Ashok carded a 68 to move into the tie alongside defending Founders champion Minjee Lee and 2023 rookie Hae Ran Ryu. Ashok lost in a playoff two weeks ago at the JM Eagle LA Championship and has three top-three finishes on the Ladies European Tour this year, including a win at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open. With a win, she would become the first player from India to emerge victorious on the LPGA Tour.
“I just wanted to be near the top of the leaderboard or at the top in the early rounds of the tournament,” said Ashok, in her seventh year on the LPGA Tour. “I've been doing that. Hopefully I can have a good weekend and maybe capitalize on the good start.”
The cut came at +1, with 66 players advancing to the weekend. Among those that missed the cut are Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda, two-time 2023 LPGA Tour winner Lilia Vu and 2023 JM Eagle LA Championship winner Hannah Green.