Andrea Lee remains competitive ahead of Mediheal Championship’s final round

SOMIS — Hermosa Beach native Andrea Lee loves when the LPGA Tour brings her back home to play golf.

Earlier this year the former Mira Costa High School standout got her 2022 season rolling in the right direction with a fourth-place finish at the Palos Verdes Championship.

The Tour is in Ventura County this week for the Mediheal Championship at The Saticoy Club and once again Lee finds herself near the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round. Propelled by seven birdies and just a single bogey, Lee fired a 6-under 66, leaving the former Stanford star in a tie for third at 9 under par.

The only bad news for Lee is that she will start the final round five shots behind leader Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who fired a 3-under 69 on Saturday, giving Shadoff the first 54-hole lead of her career. Paula Reto also fired a 69 on Saturday and is alone in second place at 10 under par. She will play with Shadoff in the final pairing on Sunday.

Lee, who posted her first career victory a few weeks ago at the AmazingCRE Portland Classic, said she isn’t worried about having to try and make up so many shots over the final 18 holes.

“Yeah, I don’t think there is any pressure coming from behind. I definitely felt more nervous I think on the last round in Portland because I was tied for the lead,” Lee said. “Since I’m coming from behind in the last round, you know, I think I’m just going to play aggressive and just try to do what I did today: Just hit fairways and greens and give myself a lot of chances.”

Lee played the golf course for the first time a few months ago and seeing how challenging the greens were she said she wasn’t sure there were going to be a lot of low scores this week. But with the usually slick Saticoy greens having been slowed down this week, so players have had a chance to be more aggressive with their putts.

“The greens aren’t as fast as we normally play them so just getting used to that and making sure that the ball actually gets to the hole gives you a a chance at making putts,” Lee said. “I think my speed control has gotten a little bit better as the week has gone on, allowing me to be a little bit more aggressive with the putts.”

Heavy early morning fog caused play to be delayed by more than an hour. As a result, Shadoff and Reto played their last three holes with very little light, but both players were happy they were able to finish the round instead of coming back early Sunday morning to do so.

“Going up 14 I didn’t think we had a chance of finishing,” Shadoff said. “It was getting dark really quickly. It’s always nice to finish and just have those couple extra hours in bed rest.”

Shadoff has never won on the LPGA Tour. She has led the tournament since her opening round 64, the first of three consecutive rounds in the 60s she has posted this week.

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Having never seen Saticoy before this week Shadoff said it was hard to know what to expect of the golf course. She was playing well coming into this week and that confidence has carried over this week.

“I think I’ve been playing some nice golf heading into this week, so I felt comfortable, and just in practice I felt comfortable,” Shadoff said. “Really it was how the putter was going to perform. I feel comfortable on these greens, which is always a nice feeling. I hit my driver really well again today. I think overall I just feel really comfortable with how I’m hitting the ball, and, yeah, it was steady and consistent again. It’s always nice to have a bogey-free round of course.”

Through 54 holes Reto leads the field in both birdies made and total putts, yet finds herself four shots behind heading into the final round.

“I need to give myself a lot of opportunities,” Reto said. “She’s playing really steady, real strong, not making any bogeys, so I’m going to have to try to do the same and just give myself opportunities, but try not to think about it, have fun and enjoy it as well. We enjoy competing so that’s what I’m going to do tomorrow, and have a good attitude about it.”

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