Sandra Gal of Germany birdied five of the final eight holes on Friday for a five-under 67 and a one-stroke lead over Amy Yang in the Avnet LPGA Classic, the tour’s only event in a six-week stretch.
Gal, who won the Kia Classic last month in California for her first LPGA Tour title, had a seven-under 137 total on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove complex.
“Obviously, I’m playing well,” Gal said. “I’m just enjoying myself out there. I mean, I’m not doing anything really different. I’ve been playing solid since the end of last year. Just winning, you know, I think you get more comfortable at the top. Being in the lead is something. You know, to be there and feel comfortable there, so that’s probably the difference now.”
Gal bogeyed nine and 10 to fall to two-under for the tournament and even-par for the day, then birdied 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17 to top the leaderboard.
“It was kind of slow start,” Gal said. “Just made a couple bogeys, at nine, 10, and that was kind of like a turning point for me. I kind of got down on myself a little bit. Then I was like: ‘OK, let’s just play one shot at a time and be patient. The birdies are going to come.’ They did, so I was happy about that.”
Yang shot a 68. She bogeyed one and had eight straight pars, before grabbing birdies on 10, 12, 14, 16 and 17.
She credited her iron-play.
“My irons, mostly irons,” Yang said. “It was inside 10 feet, all five of my birdies.”
Stacy Lewis, coming off a major victory in the Kraft Nabisco, had a 71, leaving her two strokes back at five-under along with Karen Stupples (71) and Kim Song-hee (72).
“I scrambled around and just got the ball in the hole, and was pretty happy shooting one-under,” Lewis said. “It was just kind of up and down all day. I just had to fight.”
Defending champion Pak Se-ri, a three-time winner at Magnolia Grove, had a 71 to match Suzann Pettersen (68), Yoo Sun-young (68), Jenny Suh (69) and Sarah Kemp (70) at four-under.
Taiwan’s Candie Kung carded a 70 to sit in a group on two-under. Grace Park, tied for the first-round lead with Kim, followed her opening 67 with a 75 to also drop to two-under.
Michelle Wie missed the cut with rounds of 76 and 72.
Taiwan’s world No. 1 Yani Tseng and her compatriot Amy Hung also missed the cut.
Additional reporting by staff writer