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Ko gains 3-shot lead at Founders Cup

BACK IN FORM Professional golfer Jin Young Ko hits her approach shot on No. 9 during the opening round of the LPGA VOA Classic at the Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, Thursday (Friday in Manila). She parred the hole and finished 8-under on the day. AP PHOTO

WEST CALDWELL, N.J.: Jin Young Ko put a tough loss behind her quickly and ran off six birdies over a seven-hole stretch on the back nine for an eight-under 63 on Friday (Philippine time) to build a three-shot lead in the Cognizant Founders Cup.

It was her 11th consecutive round in the 60s, three short of the record that Annika Sorenstam set in 2005.

Sandra Gal had a 66 despite not making birdie on any of the par fives at Mountain Ridge.

The large group at 67 included Nelly Korda, the No. 1 player in women’s golf who had not played since the Solheim Cup a month ago, US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso and two-time major champion So Yeon Ryu.

Brooke Henderson of Canada got a putting lesson from Shirley Spork, one of the 13 LPGA founders, and it worked well enough for a 67. Spork said the “magic putter” now has a moniker, though Henderson chose to keep that their secret.

The first round was suspended by darkness because of a 90-minute delay Thursday morning due to fog. Thirty players didn’t finish the round. The best score of those was Moriya Jutanugarn at three under through 15 holes.

Ko, whom Korda replaced at No. 1 in the summer, had control of the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week in southern New Jersey until she missed a series of putts from the 10-foot range, including the last hole to finish one shot behind Celine Boutier.

She went shopping in Manhattan, took her share of naps and watched streaming shows. And then she was back to work, and it was working well.

Ko began the back nine of the Donald Ross design with three straight birdies. Following a par on the par-3 13th, she ran off three straight birdies again. AP

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