Chasing her second win of the 2022 season and of her LPGA Tour career, South Africa’s Paula Reto went into the final round of the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship firing on all cylinders. The 32-year-old started the day at -10 and four strokes behind Jodi Ewart Shadoff, but held the lead at -14 at the turn after sinking four birdies on holes 2, 5, 6 and 8 while Ewart Shadoff earned two bogeys and one birdie. Her putting was phenomenal on the front, as she needed only 11 putts including six consecutive one-putts on holes 4-9, to get through nine.
“Had a good start, which was nice. Kind of got me some shots caught up with her, but and then somehow when I got to like the back nine, third hole into the back nine, I started slowing down instead of keep on going,” said Reto, who shot the most birdies (22) in the field and recorded the least putts (105). “That was kind of my mentality the first nine, just keep going, keep going, keep going. And so kind of slowed down and a couple shots got away from me.”
Reto said it was her ability to make up and downs that led to her final-round success, and it was when she failed to do so that she lost her lead and her chance at a second victory. The 2022 CP Women’s Open champion earned two impressive sand saves on Sunday, including one on the par-four 15th. But immediately following her great save, Reto recorded her first bogey and then added another on 17 to finish the round with a 3-under 69.
“Hit me tee shot out of the bunker on 16. It was such an uphill lie out of the bunker. I caught it fat just a little bit, and with that slope coming straight back down I had like a 35-yard chip. I committed to it; hit it really good,” said Reto, who hit 10 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens. “All the other ones have been chunking quite a bit, but that one released to like nine feet. I think I misread that putt just a little bit, and then bogey. Hit a good tee shot and then I'm trying to force it.”
Her four-round score of 275 (-13) was good enough to land Reto in a tie for third alongside fellow LPGA Tour champions Danielle Kang and Georgia Hall, two strokes behind MEDIHEAL champion Ewart Shadoff. With her win, Ewart Shadoff becomes the 10th Rolex First Time Winner of the season, joining Reto, who won her maiden event in Canada this past August. Even though she didn’t win, Reto was happy to see another new winner on Tour and enjoyed playing alongside the eventual champion during the final round.
“It's just so inspiring. Couple of the girls that won in the beginning of the year inspired me. I said, I can do it. So hopefully (Jodi’s win) can inspire many of us to do it as well,” she said. “It's just nice knowing that you can do it, knowing your game is good enough, you can compete. You just got to stick with it and let it happen. And Jodi played so well. Just stuck with it, good attitude, and that got her the win this week, which is awesome.”