NAPLES - Germany's Sandra Gal fired a three-under par 69 on Friday to stretch her lead in the LPGA's season-ending Titleholders to three strokes. Gal, who led by one shot going into the second round, had five birdies in her three-under effort at windy Tiburon Golf Club, and her 11-under total of 133 put her three strokes clear of South Korea's Yoo Sun-Young.
Yoo posted her second straight 68 for 136, and was two strokes in front of Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum (68) and Americans Gerina Piller (67) and Cristie Kerr (69). "I think I was a little nervous in the start but it was also quite tough out there," said Gal, ranked 52 in the world. "It was a lot windier than yesterday so all the holes played really different," added Gal, who nabbed three of her birdies on the back nine to pull away from the field. "It took me a little bit to get used to the conditions and hitting more three-woods instead of drivers because a lot of the shots were crosswinds or into the wind."
South Korea's Park Hee-Young, Sweden's Anna Nordqvist and American Morgan Pressel were a further stroke back on 139 -- one stroke in front of a group of six that included world number one Park In-Bee as well as China's Feng Shanshan and US teen star Lexi Thompson. New Zealand's 16-year-old sensation Lydia Ko, playing her first tournament as a professional after an amateur career that included victories in four pro events, had two birdies and one bogey in her second straight 71.
"I thought I played much better today than yesterday but the score was the same," Ko said. "I left a couple of my putts short just in front of the hole. Then when I got my speed right, the direction was wrong, so that was kind of frustrating. It did get a little bit windy at the start, but I was lucky to start on the back nine which I think is easier."
The elite season finale, open to players who posted top-three finishes this year, features a winner's prize of $700,000, the largest on the LPGA Tour. Yoo, who won a major title at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship, has posted on five top-10 finishes in 41 starts since then. She's not focused on the possible big payday but on a last chance this season to get back to the winner's circle. "It's not about money," Yoo said. "It's the last tournament of the year so I want to finish good so I can feel better for next year."