Purdue's Reto repeats at Dixie Women's Amateur

Paula Reto won her second consecutive Dixie Women's Amateur on Jan. 2.

Paula Reto won her second consecutive Dixie Women's Amateur on Jan. 2.

Unlike the other South Florida players in the field at the Dixie Women’s Amateur, Paula Reto had to shake off some winter rust when she returned home to Coral Springs, Fla., for the holidays. A standout for Purdue, and one of only two links left to the 2010 national championship team, Reto hadn’t been able to really play outside since her last tournament victory at the Landfall Tradition at the close of October.

In four beautiful days of sunshine at Heron Bay Golf Club, Reto hardly seemed out of practice. She balanced a somewhat eratic driver with her short irons to post 13-under 275 for 72 holes on her home course. She finished five shots ahead of Thai teen and U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Moriya Jutanugarn.

Reto is the first back-to-back winner of the Dixie Women’s Amateur in history. It’s the first event in the five-tournament Orange Blossom Circuit, a long-running South Florida tradition that draws elite junior, college and mid-amateur players from across the country (and across the pond) for sometimes-chilly winter golf.

“We had four days of great weather, it was awesome,” Reto said after the final round Jan. 2. “It was not even cold.”

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Paula Reto holds the Dixie Women's Amateur trophy after winning the event for the second consecutive year.

Reto built a six-shot lead on Jutanugarn and Jaye Marie Green, the reigning South Atlantic Amateur champion, entering the final round. A final-round 69 left her comfortably in the lead, with Jutanugarn and Green in second and third, respectably.

“I told myself I had to keep it solid the first nine and then I could feel a little more relaxed for the back nine,” Reto said.

This year’s Dixie is only Reto’s third start in the event. She calls it a confidence builder for Purdue’s upcoming spring season, which begins with the Lady Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 12. Reto, a junior, has plans to work on her short game and putting at the Boilermakers’ indoor facilities when she returns north for the start of the spring semester.

But she’ll view it a little differently this year.

“I’m going to work on my golf game, work a little harder than I did in previous springs,” she said.

Behind Green, Holly Clyburn, a member of the 2010 GB&I Curtis Cup team, was fourth, breaking a two-year streak of finishing runner-up at the Dixie.

Madison Pressel shot a tournament-low 66 Monday to climb into T-5 with Madison Opfer.

Diane Lang won the 54-hole senior division. It’s the third consecutive Dixie Senior title for Lang, a three-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion.

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