Gal grabs late lead
Sandra Gal left it late as she took a surprise first round lead at the Ricoh Women's British Open just after 9pm.
Last Updated: 31/07/09 11:22pm
Sandra Gal left it late to take the first round lead at the Ricoh Women's British Open, with her par at the 18th at Royal Lytham handing her a one-shot lead.
The 24-year-old German produced a fine up-and-down from the deep rough at the 18th for par to seal a three-under-par round of 69.
After close to 15 hours of play at Royal Lytham, Gal popped in her par putt at 9.11pm and with just a couple of hearty supporters left in the grandstands around the last green.
Surprise leader Gal, the world number 69, ended with a one-stroke lead over American Angela Stanford and Korean Song-hee Kim.
"There were a few gutsy people out there, so that was nice," she said. "You don't win majors in the first round but it's definitely always nice to be on top."
Gal, who gained an LPGA card in America while still an amateur, is not currently a member of the European Tour and therefore ineligible for next month's Solheim Cup, but that could change if she wins on Sunday.
The course was described as "hellatious and brutal" by 2005 winner Karen Stupples after she took 82 - still nine better than last season's European Tour number one Gwladys Nocera.
Stanford, whose mother is currently undergoing breast cancer treatment, sank a 66-foot eagle putt on the long seventh and after two late bogeys finished on a high note with a 30-foot birdie putt.
Fellow American Michelle Wie held a share of the lead on two under after seven holes, but she had to settle for a one-over 73 although that still eaves the 19-year-old handily placed.
World number one Lorena Ochoa mixed four birdies with five bogeys and a double for 75, while Korea's defending champion Jiyai Shin was two worse than that, but there were some real nightmares.
European Solheim Cup points leader Nocera had two eights on her card and played the last 12 holes in 17 over par for a shocking 91, while Korean Soo-yung Kang finished with an octuple-bogey 12 on the 386-yard 18th for an 87. She was then listed as disqualified for not signing her card, although it was later changed to a more forgiving "no return".
The 12 came when she drove into sand, pulled her third, chipped into a bunker, hit herself with her next shot to incur a two-stroke penalty, went into another bunker, had to come out sideways and three-putted.
Scot Catriona Matthew, currently in the last qualifying position for the Solheim Cup, matched Stanford's eagle on the seventh and was one-under with two to play but double-bogeyed the 17th and then dropped another shot for 74, the same as playing partner Paula Creamer.
Swede Maria Hjorth and Kim were in the very next group and, while 21-year-old Kim birdied to go joint top, Hjorth double-bogeyed to fall out of the lead.
Laura Davies also took six on the last and the 45-year-old was so disappointed she could hardly bring herself to talk after signing for a 79.