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Sal leads in rain-hit LPGA event

GERMANY'S Sandra Gal kept loose over a game of chess during a rain delay and shot an 8-under 64 to lead Shin Ji-yai by one stroke before darkness suspended first-round play at the Wegmans LPGA on Thursday.

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 with 30 players still to finish their rounds.

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.

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 Corning Classic.

"This year I think I'm improving every month and, yeah, it's just a way up there," 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 caddie, 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 US LPGA victory at the HSBC Champions event in Singapore in March and was runner-up behind Karrie Webb in the LPGA International three weeks later.


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