PORTLAND, Oregon. — Esther Henseleit feels like she’s been on the plate for the last six months on the LPGA tour. It made Friday at the AmazingCre Portland Classic feel like it absolutely took off.
Henseleit hit 10 birdie putts on her way to 8th under 64, giving the 23-year-old German a share of the lead and Lilia Wu ahead of the weekend.
Columbia Edgewater is narrow and tree-lined with dense greenery that rolls straight. Henseleit left the ball in play and the club did the rest.
Full results at AmazingCre Portland Classic
“I had a few easy putts and I hit the line and they got in, so it went well today,” Henseleit said. “I had many chances, but they were not chances. I didn’t have a bird at all.”
Wu, a former No. 1 amateur when she was at UCLA, had four birds and heads on her first seven holes and then played consistently on the back nine, hitting 66.
Wu and Henseleit were 10th below 134.
They were one shot ahead of Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who had 66 points. The big group (8-136) included another former No. 1 amateur, Andrea Lee, and one of the hottest players across the Atlantic in Sweden’s Maya Stark.
Stark, who played in Oklahoma State, won the Women’s European Tour four times, including the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland, which was jointly sanctioned by the LPGA Tour.
She climbed to No. 47 in the Women’s World Rankings and No. 54 in the CME Globe race, and is battling for one of the 60 spots at the season finale in Florida in November.
Lee began her season on the up-and-coming Epson Tour and then began to work her way through the slump, finishing well in Hawaii.
She made it to the semi-finals of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play in Las Vegas, finished 15th in the US Women’s Open (she replaced Inbee Park as a substitute) and is now set to hit the top 60 to make the CME Group. . Tour Championship.
Nelly Korda, who needs a win to get back to world number one, never made much headway and threw on the last hole at 73, leaving six shots behind.
Henseleit started at No. 63 in Thailand in March and finished at No. 12. This was the highlight of her year. She started skipping sessions and spending too much time on Friday wondering if she would be home early.
“After Thailand I had some pretty heavy hits and it’s great to see something coming your way. I’m just going to try to enjoy it, make the most of it, and just give myself a chance,” Henseleit said.
“It just seemed like nothing really came together,” she said. “I worked very hard and felt like every part of my game was improving, but I couldn’t get even. So yeah, it’s just good that today happened and I didn’t have to fight too hard for It.”
Now she faces a traffic jam on the next 36 holes. Eighteen players were separated by four shots, with several players trying to win for the first time.