Lizette Salas Sets Pace at Meijer LPGA Classic


The Korean Juggernaut took a breather at the Meijer LPGA Classic

Playing in the morning wave at the Meijer LPGA Classic, Lizette Salas carded a flawless 7-under par 64 to set the pace for the tournament.  Dori Carter and Katherine Kirk eventually carded their own 64s as well and joined Salas at the top of the leaderboard to claim a share of the overnight lead at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Carter, who’s ranked 245th by Rolex and is a relative unknown on the Tour, may become a less obscure player if she can put together a second round like she fired off today.  What she lacked in accuracy she more than made up for on the putting surface, polishing off her first round at the Meijer with a scanty 25 putts.

Kirk’s 64 was just as good as Carter’s on the leaderboard but she got there a bit differently, spicing up her card by taking advantage of the receptive Blythefield greens with an eagle on the par-5 11th.

It was Lizette Salas, however, who made my heart sing with her drives going right down the pipeline, with no Adventure-Golf detours into the rough, with her own eagle on the par-5 11th, and with 28 putts rolling straight and true to their destinations.

"“Made some pretty good plus 20‑footers for birdie and just made basically zero mistakes today,” Salas reflected after her round. “That eagle on 11 really kind of kept me going and really helped me target the pins today.  Just really stayed aggressive with the putting and it’s really coming along.  My finish at the Open kind of gave me that extra boost of confidence to really go low and that’s what I did today.”"

That finish at the US Open that Salas was conjuring was a T14 that came with an impressive final round 68.  It wasn’t Salas’s best finish of the year so far — that T11 finish came at the JTBC Founders Cup last March.  But it was a mighty moment when Salas reached deep down into her soul and pulled out a golf game I haven’t seen at work yet this season.

I’ve missed that golf game and I imagine 34th ranked Lizette Salas has missed it too.  Right now she’s sitting in the bubble in terms of Solheim Cup points, between Paula Creamer who’s holding the 9th position and Jessica Korda, who’s at 11th.  She’d like an opportunity to build on her solid Solheim Cup 2013 rookie performance but she’s not going to get it if she doesn’t deliver the game the US team needs.

With neither Creamer nor Korda in the Meijer LPGA Classic field, a win or even a high finish this week would strengthen Salas’s chances to make the United States team.  Now she needs to come back with a strong second round and convince Juli Inkster, who’s also in the Meijer field, that this round wasn’t a fluke, that she has her game in form.

Salas will begin her second round at 1:21pm, playing with Alison Lee and So Yeon Ryu. Lee, who carded a first round 67, was also looking good and trying to catch Captain Inkster’s eye.  Perhaps she and Salas can feed off each other Friday and enjoy the near-perfect conditions in Grand Rapids.  It would be a perfect day for somebody to break 60!

Next: Meijer LPGA Classic Preview & TV Schedule

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