Gal increases Titleholders lead to three through 36


With several players near the top of the leaderboard struggling in the wind Friday at Tiburon Golf Club, Sandra Gal remained in control throughout much of her second round. Here's how things look heading into the third round of the CME Group Titleholders, where Gal leads by three shots at the halfway point:

Leaderboard: Sandra Gal (-11), Sun Young Yoo (-8), Cristie Kerr (-6), Gerina Piller (-6), Pornanong Phatlum (-6), Morgan Pressel (-5), Anna Nordqvist (-5)

What it means: A runner-up at this event in 2011, Gal is in position to finish one spot higher this time around. The German got off to a somewhat slow start, playing her first 12 holes in even par, but caught fire coming home to card a 3-under 69. At 11 under through 36 holes, she now leads by three shots as she looks to claim her second career LPGA title.

Round of the day: After an opening-round 71 left her in the middle of the pack, Piller shot up the leaderboard thanks to a bogey-free, 5-under 67. The recent Solheim Cup member carded a pair of birdies on her outward nine and added two more on her inward half, including at both Nos. 17 and 18. Piller found every fairway and reached all but two greens in regulation, and now finds herself tied for third heading into the weekend.

Best of the rest: A major winner last year at Mission Hills, Yoo failed to drop a shot en route to a 4-under 68 during Friday’s second round. The South Korean recorded three birdies across a six-hole stretch from Nos. 2-7, and at 8-under 136 she will have a spot alongside Gal in Saturday’s final group. Yoo capitalized on a strong short game Friday, needing only 24 putts while shooting one of the day’s lowest rounds despite reaching only 10 of 18 greens in regulation.

Biggest disappointment: Coming off a win last week in Mexico, Lexi Thompson appeared poised to contend again this week but was derailed somewhat by a 2-over 74. The teen struggled to garner any momentum during her second round, bogeying four holes en route to an outward nine of 2-over 38. One day after a bogey-free 66, Thompson made five bogeys on Friday, and she will now head into the weekend at 4 under, seven shots off the pace.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: All signs point to this week belonging to Gal. Though she leads by three, she’s five shots clear of all players outside of Yoo with 36 holes to play and has shown no signs of slowing down. Still, the event is far from over, as major champions like Kerr, Pressel and Nordqvist all remain within striking distance heading into the weekend.