Sarah Kemp, Jin Young Ko share lead at Founders Cup

Sarah Kemp of Australia and Jin Young Ko of South Korea were tied atop the leaderboard after the second round of the Cognizant Founders Cup on Friday in Clifton, N.J.

Kemp fired a 7-under 65 for the round of the day at Upper Montclair Country Club. Ko, the third-ranked player in the world, shot her second straight 68, a steady round with four birdies and no bogeys.

Together, they’re 8-under 136, one shot ahead of Aditi Ashok of India (68 Friday), Minjee Lee of Australia (69) and Hae Ran Ryu of South Korea (70), who are tied at 7-under 137. Cheyenne Knight posted a 70 Friday to move into sole possession of sixth at 6-under 138.

Kemp birdied the first three holes to jump-start her round. She was 8 under for the day after back-to-back birdies at the par-5 14th and par-3 15th, but she carded her only bogey of the day at No. 16 and finished up her 65.

“The three birdies (to start) was awesome,” Kemp said. “I had a good warmup. Felt like it was going to be a pretty good day.”

Kemp, 37, has found plenty of success on the WPGA Tour of Australasia but has never won on the LPGA Tour. She has nine career top 10s.

“I’m sure I’ll go to bed and think about it naturally, and I think I’ll be pretty excited for (Saturday),” Kemp said. “Maybe try and calm my excitement down. Being co-leader going into Saturday at an LPGA event is pretty cool, right?

“So if I can just play it down a little bit and just manage my excitement — although that’s a really good thing and I think there would be something wrong if I wasn’t excited — but I think I can get a little bit too hyped.”

Ko started with eight pars before getting birdies to fall at Nos. 9, 11, 12 and 18, the latter pulling her into the lead.

“The greens are a little firm, so we need to more good focus for my eye on distance and judge distance,” Ko said. “Greens are fast, but my putting was not bad.”

Ko is a two-time winner of the Founders Cup, in March 2019 and October 2021.

First-round leader Sei Young Kim of South Korea followed her opening 66 with a 4-over 76 to plummet to a tie for 29th at 2 under par.

World No. 1 Nelly Korda had two double bogeys on her card Friday and missed the 1-over cut line by a single stroke. Other notables to miss the cut included Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit (2 over), Hannah Green of Australia (4 over) and Chevron Championship winner Lilia Vu (4 over).

–Field Level Media

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