Morgan Pressel sank a three-foot eagle putt on her final hole, No. 9, to post a 5-under-par 66 and take a one-stroke lead over four players after one round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic in windy conditions on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway, N.J.
The 27-year-old Pressel, who won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic but is winless since, also collected five birdies and had two bogeys in her round.
“I feel better about my game,” said Pressel, who last month lost to top-ranked Lydia Ko in a playoff at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in San Francisco and finished third in the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage.
“Even to not have, really, my best game, but still manage to get the ball in the hole and shoot 5-under-par, I don’t know that I could have done that a couple of months ago. That’s also a mental thing as well, mental toughness.
“I think it’s just a confidence thing. I think it’s not standing up to the tee afraid of where the golf ball might go, but knowing on the next one I certainly can give myself a good opportunity to make birdie. It’s nice to stand up to the tee with more confidence.”
Ryann O’Toole of San Clemente and UCLA birdied her last three holes while also finishing on the front nine to shoot 67 and was tied for second with Alena Sharp of Canada, Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and Min Lee of Taiwan, who was even with Pressel before making her only bogey on the 13th hole.
Rookie Brooke Henderson of Canada carded a 68 that included eight birdies and finished at 68 to tie for sixth with Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand, Sydnee Michaels of Temecula and UCLA, Jenny Shin of South Korea, Catriona Matthew of Scotland, Gerina Piller, Hee Young Park of South Korea, Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden and Christel Boeljon of France.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis was tied for 56th after a 72.