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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Meanwhile, Out at the Kingsmill Championship...

There are a couple of big stories brewing out in Williamsburg, Virginia. (That's meant to be funny, folks. For those of you who don't remember, once upon a time the PGA Tour played the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, then the Michelob Championship at the Kingsmill River Course -- the same site as the LPGA's Kingsmill Championship.)

Lizette Salas

The first story concerns Lizette Salas, who has been on the verge of winning for a couple of years now. Just this season she's had a T3 at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and a runner-up at the Kia Classic. When the third round had ended Saturday, she was at -13 and had a 3-shot lead over Hee Young Park and was 5 shots ahead of Lydia Ko, Katherine Kirk (formerly Katherine Hull), and Stacy Lewis.

And she posted her best round of the year to do it -- a bogey-free 6-under 65 (par is 71). She birdied 3 of the last 5 holes to do it. (You may remember the 18th hole. Back in 2012, Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer played it 8 extra times before Jiyai won the 9th playoff hole the next day... on the 17th. Even the tournament organizers were tired of the hole!)

If Salas continues to play the way she has so far this week, she should finally get her first LPGA win. She decided to approach the event differently this year, as she told the Associated Press (as published in the Miami Herald):
"I took a different approach this week," Salas said. "I only played the pro-am. I've seen the course several times. It's my third year here. I didn't want to think too much about the golf course and just hit my targets. Last week, I had a good practice session at home, so I was feeling good coming in."
This sounds remarkably like what Martin Kaymer said about his win at TPC last week -- he tried not to overthink things, but just go out and play the shots.

The other story is that Inbee Park may be about to lose her #1 position in the Rolex Rankings. Both Stacy Lewis (#2) and Lydia Ko (#3) can take over with a win this week. (I believe Lewis can also take it with a two-way tie for second-place finish.) Since both are at T3 and just 5 shots back, a little weather and a stumble from Salas could shake things up.

And although it's not exactly a big story, this is still worth noting: Paula Creamer missed the cut, ending her streak of made cuts at 75. She had last missed a cut at the 2010 Safeway Classic. I believe that's the most ever for any LPGA player. According to golf.about.com, on the PGA Tour the only made cut streaks beating Creamer's are:
  • Tiger: 142
  • Byron Nelson: 113
  • Jack Nicklaus: 105
  • Hale Irwin: 86
That's some pretty heady company.

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