(The Sports Xchange) – Gerina Piller is halfway to her first LPGA Tour victory.
Piller shot a 3-under-par 68 on Friday and took a one-stroke lead over four players after two rounds of the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I in Sylvania, Ohio.
At 11-under 131 after 36 holes, Piller is just ahead of Lexi Thompson, Nelly Korda, Kim In-kyung of South Korea and Chien Peiyun of Taiwan.
Norda moved into contention with a sizzling 64, Thompson posted a 65, Kim carded a 67 and Chien shot a 68 at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
Piller, who opened with a 63 on Thursday, started on the back nine and had one birdie before the turn. After a bogey at the par-3 second hole, she ran off a string of three successive birdies on par-4 holes and then made pars the rest of the way.
“I feel like I was pretty steady. I kind of had a par streak going there,” she said. “But I gave myself chances for birdie, and at that point, you’ve just got to be patient, and there’s some birdie holes out there.”
Piller knows there is still a long way to go before she can claim her first win on the LPGA Tour. She has four runner-up finishes during her eight-year career.
“Well, it’s only Friday, so I wouldn’t put the cart before the horse, but to get that first win I think would be really special, no matter where it is,” said Piller, who is No. 25 in the Rolex World Rankings.
Thompson started on the back side and bogeyed her third hole before a run of three straight birdies and five of the next six to finish the front nine. She began her second nine with a bogey before adding three straight birdies en route to her 65.
“It’s definitely been a bit of an up-and-down year, but I’ve been playing some great golf,” Thompson said, whose 36-hole total was the second lowest of her career.
Tour rookie Aditi Ashok (68) of India is in sixth place at 9-under 133 and U.S. Women’s Open champion Park Sung-hyun (70) is tied for seventh at 8-under 134.
(Compiled by Peter Rutherford)