India’s Aditi Ashok had an eagle and four birdies in a one-under par 70 on Friday to seize a one-shot lead at the US LPGA Tour’s LA Championship.
Ashok, who started the day two adrift, teed off on the 10th hole at Wilshire Country Club and powered to the lead with birdies at 13 and 14 followed by a stunning eagle at the 15th, where her approach from the fairway hit the bottom of the cup without taking a bounce.
“Fifteen was really cool,” said Ashok, who won her fourth Ladies European Tour title in Kenya in February but is still seeking a first LPGA tour crown.
“I just holed out with, like, sand wedge from 85 yards, so that was pretty cool.”
Ashok said she’d debated the club with her father, Ashok Gudlamani, who is caddying for her this week, because “it was kind of an in-between number.”
“We were almost trying to hit the next wedge because there’s water short of the green, but I decided to hit that one a little more full, and we got the number exactly right because it landed in the hole, so we’re like, OK, maybe it’s not a bad number.”
Despite some difficulties the rest of the way, Ashok’s six-under total of 136 put her one shot clear of Australian Hannah Green, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and American Cheyenne Knight. Green and Knight both posted two-under par 69s while Lindberg carded a 70.
After closing her first nine with bogeys at 17 and 18, Ashok bogeyed the fourth before back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth. Bogeys at the seventh and ninth saw her lead shrink.
The only real disappointment, she said, was her bogey at the seventh, where she was hitting into the green with a wedge.
“With wedge you’re looking at birdie, so that was I guess giving away a shot, but apart from that, it was good,” she said.
Ashok, who ended a streak of four missed cuts on the LPGA tour that dated back to last year, said she’d focus on limiting mistakes, rather than making more birdies, at the weekend.
“I think five or six birdies around this place is pretty good for a round, but just trying to focus on not dropping as many shots,” she said. “I think I bogeyed three par-threes, so maybe just focus on hitting the middle of the green on the par-threes and staying in position.”
Overnight leader Linnea Johansson of Sweden had a tough day, carding a three-over 75 that left her tied for eighth.
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