SOMIS, Calif., Oct. 6 - On Thursday at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, Jodi Ewart Shadoff lit up The Saticoy Club to take the 18-hole lead after a stellar 8-under 64, which is the 34-year-old’s career-best first-round score. Starting off on No. 10, the Englishwoman birdied her first hole of the day, but it was an eagle on the No. 14 Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole that truly kicked her round into gear.
“I hit a 3-wood to about ten feet and rolled that in,” said Ewart Shadoff. “Then just kind of got hot from there.”
Ewart Shadoff posted a lone bogey at No. 1 after making the turn, but responded a few holes later with four consecutive birdies on 5-8 to take a two-stroke lead heading into Friday. She has not held an individual first-round lead since the 2021 ShopRite Classic in 2021. Ewart Shadoff, whose season-best finish is solo third from this year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, is still looking for her elusive first win after 12 years on Tour and is hoping to carry a strong day one performance in Somis, Calif. into the rest of the week.
“The green complexes are really difficult, and you have to play safe when you need to and be aggressive when you can. So just being able in the right parts of the greens definitely helped, and I felt like did I a good job of doing that today,” said Ewart Shadoff, who is currently 44th in the Race to the CME Globe. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities and I just felt really comfortable and relaxed with the putter today, so I think that really happened.”
Ladies European Tour winner Alison Lee and six-time Epson Tour winner Ruixin Liu are tied for second after 6-under 66s. Lee, who has earned three top-10 finishes this season including a season-best tie for fifth at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, went bogey free while carding six birdies, with three straight on Nos. 3-5.
“I feel like for the entire year I feel like I've been playing really well. I've just had a few putts here and there that weren't able to go in. A lot of the time it was not putting aggressive enough,” said Lee, who hit every fairway and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. “And today I had quite a few uphill putts that normally I wouldn't make, and I made a conscious effort to just ram it back into the cup and it worked.”
Liu headed into MEDIHEAL 97th in the Race to CME Globe standings, just on the edge of securing full-time Tour status for 2023. Liu, whose 66 is her lowest 18-hole score since the 2020 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, said Thursday’s round only helped her confidence as she looks to increase her standing on the CME Points List.
“I think after today I know I can conquer the course just like I did today, so tomorrow same plan,” said Liu. “Stay focus and stay patient.”
Six-time LPGA Tour winner Danielle Kang, two-time winner Atthaya Thitikul and 2022 CP Women’s Open champion Paula Reto sit in a tie for fourth at -5. There are 10 players in a tie for seventh, including those looking to take advantage of the week in Somis as a way of moving up on the Race to the CME Globe Points List, like Jenny Coleman (No. 131), Dana Finkelstein (No. 125) and Lindy Duncan (No. 113). Two-time Epson Tour winner Lucy Li is also among those at -4 and is in the field after successfully winning the Monday qualifier this week. Li, who finished T13 in the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship last year, clinched her 2023 Tour card through her performances on the Epson Tour but is still looking for a favorable finish in her home state of California.
“Definitely nice to get back out here and play well again. I think the last couple tournaments I was really close, missing the cut by one shot. I think I was just a little bit mentally tired from traveling so much and having a really crazy couple of months,” said Li. “Just having the ability to kind of reset there was really nice. Kind of my like last big event of the year, so being able to play this and then have a pretty long off-season will be nice.”
Defending champion Matilda Castren is T71 at +1.