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4th June 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA’s Reto shares ShopRite Classic lead

SLT_PaulaReto_2South Africa’s Paula Reto fired an opening seven-under-par 64 to grab a share of the three-way tie at the top of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, presented by Acer, in New Jersey on Friday.

The country’s second highest ranked player tied for pole position with defending champion Anna Nordqvist and 2010 champion Ai Miyazato at the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway.

The leading trio finished a shot ahead of three players at 65, while another 19 players finishes within three of the lead.

Reto fired eight birdies against a lone bogey to tie for the lead for the first time since she joined the LPGA Tour in 2014. Her score also equalled a career low 64 she shot in the second round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last year.

This was a far cry from the rounds of 77 and 78 she posted in last year’s edition and left the Bloemfontein native excited for the second round.

“I played good and steady, especially with irons and putting, but not so much off the tee,” Reto said.

“I got away with a couple of the shots, but I told myself to take it one shot at a time, don’t lose focus and start doubting yourself. Everything paid off and I’m really happy and I’m excited to come back out.”

Nordqvist overcame a slow start with nine birdies in her final 12 holes.

“I think it was just a little rust,” Nordqvist explained. “It was early in the morning; I’m not a morning person. But 11 and 12, they weren’t really bad shots, but they just ended up in places you really couldn’t want to be. I just kept my head high and started giving myself better chances.”

Her round of 64 is her career low round and her low round of the 2016 season and comes at an opportune time as the five-time LPGA Tour winner tries to complete her first successful title defence.

“It’s been a great week and I seem to have a lot of support here and a lot of people have been cheering me on,” said Nordqvist. “It’s great to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd this big, especially not on a Friday here.”

Miyazato had six birdies, an eagle and a bogey in her opening round 64 which also marks her lowest round of the season and lowest round since she shot 64 in the second round of the 2013 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

“Yeah, I feel good,” Miyazato said after her round. “But since the beginning of this year, my game was in good shape and all I can do is just to be patient. But finally I could see some like momentum in my score.”

Meanwhile South Africa’s Bertine Strauss opened with a one-under-par 70 and compatriot Ashleigh Simon carded an even-par 71. They are respectively tied for 59th and 77th.

PHOTO – Paula Reto; credit LPGA Tour.