Germany’s Esther Henseleit broke out of her LPGA rut on Friday, carding an eight-under-par 64 to share the Portland Classic lead with American Lilia Vu.
Henseleit fired 10 birdies to build a 36-hole total of 10-under-par 134 at Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon.
It was a welcome change from the doldrums that had dogged her since a tie for 12th in Thailand in March.
“I had some pretty rough bumps since Thailand, and it’s great to see something coming your way,” the 23-year-old said. “It just felt like nothing really came together.
“I’ve been working really hard and felt like every part of my game has been improving, but couldn’t really get the scores together. So, yeah, just good that today kind of happened and I didn’t have to fight too hard for it.”
Henseleit said some “easy putts” helped her cause.
“I had many chances, but they were not gimmes,” she said. “I didn’t have a tap-in birdie at all.”
Former top-ranked amateur Vu had an eagle and four birdies in her first seven holes on the way to a 66.
The leading duo were one shot in front of Spanish veteran Carlota Ciganda, who signed for a 66.
Sweden’s Maja Stark was in a big group on eight under alongside Ecuador’s Daniela Darquea, China’s Zhang Weiwei, Japan’s Ayaka Furue, Australian Hannah Green and American Andrea Lee.
Stark fired a final-round 63 in August to win the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland, earning her fourth Ladies European Tour title in an event co-sanctioned by the LPGA. She’s playing her first event as an LPGA tour member in Portland.
“It’s very satisfying to know that I can do it and wasn’t just a fluke that I played well last time,” said Stark, who has risen to 47th in the world and is chasing a berth in the LPGA season finale in November.
Stark had an eagle and five birdies in her round to counter two bogeys.
“I felt like I was struggling out there today, and then coming in with a minus five, I’m over the moon that can it feel so bad but then end up working out.”
South African Paul Reto is on seven under (T10) after carding a second-round 66.
© Agence France-Presse