Shadoff surges ahead

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff conjured a late birdie spree to surge into a two-shot first-round lead at the LPGA Tour’s Mediheal Championship in California on Thursday.

The 34-year-old world No. 93 reeled off four birdies in her final five holes to shoot an eight-under-par 64 at The Saticoy Club in Somis, west of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan launched their bids with two-under-par 70 and 72, respectively.

The 20-year-old Saso eagled the par-5 14th hole and made three birdies against three bogeys to get a provisional share of 17th spot, six shots behind Jodi Ewart Shadoff.

Pagdanganan, on the other hand, rallied with two birdies in the last three holes to salvage even par.

Two of the tour’s longest hitters, Saso and Pagdanganan averaged 279 and 288 yards off the tee, respectively.

Saso missed four fairways and five greens while Pagdanganan hit only eight of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens.

On the greens, Saso made 29 putts to Pagdanganan’s 30.

Shadoff’s barnstorming finish followed a blistering outward nine, when she sank three birdies and an eagle after teeing off on the 10th hole to reach the turn at five under.

The lone blemish on an otherwise flawless day for the Englishwoman came with a bogey five on the par-four first.

“I think everything was just clicking,” Shadoff said afterwards.

“I hit my driver really great and I gave myself a lot of opportunities. The putter just got hot, so I was giving myself a lot of opportunities and just rolling it in.”

“I just felt really relaxed today. Everything was just kind of flowing.”

Shadoff, who has yet to win a tournament in 12 seasons on the LPGA Tour, leads from China’s Liu Ruixin and American Alison Lee, who share second after carding six-under-par 66s.

Elsewhere Thursday there was an impressive homecoming for California’s Danielle Kang, who is playing in only her fifth tournament following a three-month layoff after underdgoing treatment for a spinal tumor.

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