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Gal Now up by Three in Titleholders


Sandra Gal followed up her opening 8-under 64 with a 69 Friday to take a three-stroke lead in the CME Group Titleholders. The $2 million event, the season-ender on the LPGA Tour, began Thursday at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

After carding nine birdies and a bogey Thursday, Gal's scorecard wasn't quite as clean in the second round. The 28-year-old German had five birdies and two bogeys to reach 11-under 133, three ahead of South Korea's Sun Young Yoo, who had a second straight 68.

The scores were higher across the board Friday as winds swept across the course; the layout played 2.5 strokes higher than in the opening round.

"It was quite tough out there because it was so windy and it took me awhile to get used to that," Gal told reporters. "I was a little less aggressive today because of the wind and the pin placements. I had to work the ball a lot more, but I stayed aggressive. But I was a little smarter, I guess."

"It was a little different because (Thursday) was so calm," Yoo added. "The holes played longer, so it was a little tougher . . . The last two days I've played really well. I'm in a good with two rounds to go."

The low round was posted by American Gerina Piller, who carded a 5-under 67 to move up into a tie for third at 138 with fellow American Cristie Kerr (69) and Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum (68).

Six behind Gal are American Morgan Pressel (68), South Korea's Hee Young Park (70) and Sweden's Anna Nordqvist (73).

Tied for ninth at 140 are Spain's Azahara Munoz (68), China's Shanshan Feng (74) and Americans Jennifer Johnson (69), Natalie Gulbis (70) and Lexi Thompson (74). Also at 140 is No. 1-ranked Inbee Park, who carded an even-par 72 after starting with a 68.

Park entered the tournament already having the LPGA Tour's points-based Player of the Year award sewed up thanks to her six victories - including three majors - in 2013.

Defending champion Na Yeon Choi has posted rounds of 71 and 74 and is 13 strokes behind Gal.

Making her professional debut Thursday was Lydia Ko, the 16-year-old former amateur from New Zealand who's already won twice - two consecutive Canadian Women's Opens - in the past two years on the LPGA Tour. Ko has shot a pair of 71s and is tied for 23rd at 142 with American Michelle Wie (70) and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who carded a 72.

Nos. 2 and 3 in the world ranking, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and American Stacy Lewis, respectively, are tied for 33rd at even-par 144.

The Titleholders' winner will earn $700,000, the biggest payday in women's golf.

For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.