Paula Reto opened the Lotte Championship on the LPGA Tour with a three-under-par 69 on Friday at Kapolei Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii to find herself in a share of 27th place.
She made four birdies and a bogey as she ended the first round five shots off the pace set by Brittany Altomare of the United States and Yuka Saso of the Philippines. They, in turn, had a one-stroke edge over So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and the American players Ally Ewing and Nelly Korda.
Reto, who had to qualify for the tournament, started her round on the 10th, and picked up birdies on 12, 15 and 17 on her way to a superb opening nine of three-under 33. She made another birdie on the first after the turn, but dropped that shot with a bogey on the par-four third. She kept it together with pars all the way home.
Ashleigh Buhai had a steady start to her opening round, with pars all the way through her first nine, but she dropped a shot on the 11th, birdied the 14th, and dropped two more shots on the 16th and 18th. She finished on two-over and will have to work to make the cut in Thursday’s second round.
Saso, a 19-year-old from the Philippines, birdied five of her last six holes. She is playing on a sponsor’s exemption. The 2019 Girls Junior PGA Champion turned pro that November after earning her card on the Japan LPGA Tour, where she is currently third on the money list.
Altomare, who like Saso, finished on the front nine, played it in 29 with successive birdies on one to seven, finishing the run with a chip-in. She needed just 24 putts to post her career-low LPGA round. The four-time All-American at Virginia has never won in seven years on tour.
With reporting from The Associated Press