Pressel takes early lead in ShopRite

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Morgan Pressel says she was lost earlier this year.

Not anymore.

She’s finding herself on more and more LPGA leaderboards with her swing and confidence continuing to build.

With a 5-under-par 66 Friday, including an eagle-3 on her final hole, Pressel took the early lead through the morning wave at the ShopRite Classic at the Seaview Hotel and Golf Club outside Atlantic City, N.J. At the end of the day, Pressel's score held up for a one-shot lead over four players.

“I feel better about my game,” Pressel said. “Even to not have, really, my best game, but still manage to get the ball in the hole and shoot 5 under par, I don't know that I could have done that a couple of months ago. That’s also a mental thing as well, mental toughness.”

Pressel, 27, has rebuilt a game that’s taking her closer to a third LPGA title, her first in seven seasons. She missed getting in a playoff by one shot at the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship. She lost the Swinging Skirts Classic in a playoff a month ago.

After setting out in the middle of last year to work on her swing alone, Pressel reunited with swing coach Ron Stockton before the Founders Cup in Phoenix almost three months ago. They overhauled her swing. Though she says she still fights old habits, she is getting back to the form that made her a formidable presence in majors and on the tour’s toughest setups.

“I think it's just a confidence thing,” Pressel said. “I think it's not standing up to the tee afraid of where the golf ball might go, but knowing on the next one I certainly can give myself a good opportunity to make birdie. It’s nice to stand up to the tee with more confidence.” 

Pressel missed seven greens but scrambled well on Friday.

“Morgan’s short game is amazing, and she's a very feisty player,” said Anna Nordqvist, who is a shot behind Pressel. “Once she gets hot, she gets really hot ... I think she is riding some confidence.”