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Lights out at LPGA


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POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009

ROCHESTER, N.Y. » Germany's Sandra Gal kept loose over a game of chess during a rain delay and shot an 8-under 64 yesterday to lead Jiyai Shin by one stroke before darkness suspended first-round play at the Wegmans LPGA.

An afternoon storm packing hail, lightning and torrential rain interrupted the tournament for three hours at the tree-lined Locust Hill course in suburban Rochester. Poor light then ended play at 8:37 p.m. with 30 players unable to finish their round.

Becky Lucidi was in third place at 6 under through 15 holes. Kristy McPherson and Michele Redman were tied for fourth place with 5-under 67s. Tiger Woods' 18-year-old niece, Cheyenne, carded a 75 in her pro-tour debut, which came courtesy of a sponsor exemption.

Honolulu's Michelle Wie was among a dozen players tied for 10th at 3 under. She carded five birdies and two bogeys for her 69, birdieing four of her final six holes for a closing 31.

The 24-year-old Gal, in her second year on tour, finished with a 15-foot birdie putt for a career-best round. Her best finish was a tie for fifth at last month's LPGA Corning Classic.

“;This year I think I'm improving every month,”; Gal said. “;Sometimes it doesn't go quick and you got to take one step at a time.”;

Starting on the back nine, Gal ran up five consecutive birdies before play was suspended. She said she joked with her caddy, then played chess with her father, Jan.

“;We're not done yet,”; she said. “;I had a few checks there from him but I got out of it.”;

When play restarted, she two-putted for another birdie on No. 17 and sank an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 1.

“;At first I thought, it's a pity we're stopping. But then I said, come on, it's just a new start, a fresh round, and see how low we can go.”;

“;I just got something to eat and talked to a few people,”; said Shin, who picked up four birdies on her back nine. “;I just felt really confident because my putter was very good today.”;

Shin picked up her first LPGA victory at the HSBC Women's Champions event in Singapore in early March and was runner-up behind Karrie Webb in the J Golf LPGA International three weeks later.

Tied for sixth at 68 were Diana D'Alessio, Morgan Pressel, Brandi Jackson, Haeji Kang and Stacy Lewis, who three-putted from 7 feet on No. 18.

Defending champion Eun-Hee Ji bogeyed nine of the first 14 holes and carded an 8-over 80.

Lewis, the former NCAA champ from Arkansas, reached 6-under with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

The $2 million tournament drew 18 of the season's top 20 money winners, including No. 1 Cristie Kerr, who shot 75. Absent is Lorena Ochoa, the world's top-ranked player, and Suzann Pettersen, runner-up here last June.