Belmont, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Sandra Gal fired a 6-under 65 on Thursday to claim a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic.
Gal, who has missed the cut in three of her last four starts, is seeking her second win on the LPGA Tour. Her lone title came at the 2011 Kia Classic.
"My swing is coming together a little bit, hitting little fades and it keeps me in the fairway," said Gal. "And then obviously you've got to have a good putting day shooting 6-under, so I felt like I had that. I hit a couple close, so just a little bit of everything."
Former world No. 1 Inbee Park carded a 5-under 66 during her opening round at Blythefield Country Club to sit alone in second place, while Katherine Kirk is in third at 4-under 67.
Ilhee Lee, Azahara Munoz, Katy Harris, Gerina Piller, Amy Yang and Line Vedel shot matching 3-under 68s to share fourth place.
Michelle Wie, who captured her first major title at the U.S. Women's Open Championship among her two wins this season, withdrew during the first round due to a hand injury.
"I don't know what happened," said Wie. "It just started hurting last week and just started getting worse and got to the point where I couldn't really hold a club today. So I'm just going to try to get an MRI right now and see what my next steps are. Hopefully I can play next week, so we'll see."
Gal went out with one of the earliest groups off the 10th tee and opened her round with three straight pars.
A bogey at the 13th dropped her to 1-over, but she later got that stroke back with a birdie at the 17th to make the turn at even-par.
She then put together an impressive run of six straight birdies from the third to race to 6-under.
"I was in a zone, I was really relaxed," Gal said about the run. "I was talking a lot to my caddie and to my playing partners, just kind of letting it happen instead of forcing it, which every so often that's what we golfers do."
Gal parred the ninth to end there and claim the clubhouse lead.
Park was the closest to threatening Gal's lead later in the afternoon.
After parring her first three holes, Park moved into red numbers with a birdie at the fourth. She added consecutive gains at the seventh and eighth to make the turn at 3-under.
Another birdie at the 11th moved her to 5-under, but she gave that shot right back with a bogey at the 12th.
Two more birdies at the 15th and 17th pulled her within a shot of the lead, but she could not catch Gal as Park closed her round with a par at the last.
Kirk countered a lone bogey with five birdies during her round to move within two shots of the lead.
NOTES: Gal's 65 was her lowest round of the season ... Her six straight birdies tied the longest such streak on tour this season ... Thirty-nine players carded a score under par on Thursday.