Things start­ing to swing the right way for Salas

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - GOLF -

BEL­MONT, Mich. — Lizette Salas thinks things are fi­nally go­ing her way and the re­sults on the golf course are start­ing to match the work she has put in her game.

With­out a top-10 fin­ish this year, Salas shot a 7-un­der 64 on Satur­day to take a four-stroke lead in the Mei­jer LPGA Clas­sic, putting her in po­si­tion for her sec­ond tour ti­tle.

“A lot has hap­pened since I turned pro four years ago, and I have strug­gled this year but also kept work­ing,” Salas said. “Fi­nally, I’m play­ing the golf I’ve been work­ing so hard to find. I’m re­ally happy. Now I just want to fo­cus on each shot and fo­cus on keep­ing calm.”

The 26-year- old for­mer Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia player won the 2014 Kingsmill Cham­pi­onship and played on the 2013 U.S. Sol­heim Cup team.

She stayed calm in the third round, birdieing Nos. 14-16 and clos­ing her bo­gey-free round with two pars. She had a 16-un­der 197 to­tal at Blythe­field Coun­try Club.

“I think the put­ter re­ally, re­ally came in to­day,” she said. “I just kept it in the fair­way and kept knock­ing them close. I don’t know what’s go­ing on. Ev­ery­thing’s been go­ing my way, and I’ve been stay­ing pos­i­tive and just re­ally fo­cus­ing on my shots. I’m, re­ally, re­ally happy.”

Birdies on three of the first four holes and another at the par- 4 ninth hole al­lowed Salas to pull in front of the field. Af­ter sav­ing par with a 25foot putt at 13, she hit a shot in­side two feet at the par-3 14th for birdie and fol­lowed with a 6-footer at 15 and a 30-footer at 16.

Lexi Thompson and Michigan na­tive Kris Ta­mulis were tied for sec­ond. Ta­mulis, whose fam­ily still sum­mers in north­ern Michigan, shot 67. Thompson had a 68.

Ta­mulis, a for­mer Michigan Women’s Open win­ner and Symetra Tour grad­u­ate, said win­ning for the first time on the LPGA Tour in her home state would be a dream come true.

“I played all my ju­nior golf here and my par­ents still live here in the sum­mer, so it would be very spe­cial,” Ta­mulis said. “I can’t get ahead of my­self though. I’ve had low ex­pec­ta­tions all week. I’ve played long enough to know there is a long way to go and great com­pe­ti­tion.”

Thompson, tied for the sec­ond-round lead with Salas and Ali­son Lee, missed a four-foot putt and made bo­gey at 16, but birdied the par- 4 18th with a three­footer.

Thompson was dis­ap­pointed with her put­ter most of the day.

“I missed a good amount of short putts,” she said. “But I’m go­ing into to­mor­row with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. I’m go­ing to go hit a few putts. The last stroke I made was re­ally good, so I’m just go­ing to go into to­mor­row with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.”

Lee had a 70 to drop into a tie for fourth at 6 un­der with Brit­tany Lin­ci­come (65), Caro­line Mas­son (65), So Yeon Ryu (65), Katie Bur­nett (66) and Ge­rina Piller (69).

Lee said lit­tle mis­takes cost her, but that watch­ing Salas go low inspired her.

“She was on a roll to­day,” Lee said. “It just shows it’s pos­si­ble to shoot that low of a round, so I’ll take what I can from that and play well to­mor­row.”

Top-ranked In­bee Park, a three-time win­ner this year, had five birdies in a six-hole stretch and fin­ished with a 66 to move into a tie for 10th at 5 un­der. She said it was great to be near the lead in prepa­ra­tion for next week’s Women’s Bri­tish Open.

“It’s a lot more fun, sure, but you want to be com­pet­ing in con­tention and ob­vi­ously want to try a few things un­der the pres­sure,” she said.

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lizette Salas fired a 64 Satur­day to take a four- shot lead in Michigan.

PETER POWER / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Suzann Pet­tersen bat­tled the wind to a draw at Troon on Satur­day.

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