Altvater: Lizette Salas breakthrough bodes well for women’s golfWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Lizette Salas has been knocking on the door and it finally opened for her at the Kingsmill Championship earlier this month, where she collected her first win on the LPGA Tour.
Her journey from humble beginnings is well documented and her trip to the LPGA Tour is a true American success story.
She turned professional out of the University of Southern California in 2011 and earned her way onto the LPGA Tour for the 2012 season. Salas has 10 career top-10 finishes and has won over $1.2 million in just a little over two years on tour, but had not been able to find the winners circle.
She finished T-3 in the first tournament of the year at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and was runner-up at the Kia Classic in March.
She posted six top-10 finishes last year, including a runner-up at the LPGA Lotte Championship and a third-place finish at the Safeway Classic.
Salas held a three-shot lead over Hee Young Park from South Korea after 54 holes at Kingsmill and her final round of even-par was good enough to give her the win.
Park had a tough day on Sunday posting an eight-over par 79 and fell to T-29.
Toledo-born Stacy Lewis began the final round tied for third with Lydia Ko and Katherine Kirk, but her three-over par 74 left her at T-12. She finished outside the top 10 for only the second time in 10 starts this season.
Ko, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the world behind Lewis and Inbee Park, had another solid finish. Four consistent rounds of 70-68-67-71 left her at eight-under par and tied for fifth with So Yeong Ryu.
Three players finished the day tied for runner-up four shots behind Salas.
Sarah Jane Smith began the day T-14, but a five-under par 66 moved her 13 spots up the leaderboard for a tie for second.
Former world No. 1 and winner of five major titles, Yani Tseng also carded a strong finish on Sunday. Tseng had one of her better tournaments for some time posting 68-70-68-69 to finish at nine-under par and tied for runner-up.
Lexi Thompson also finished in a tie for the second spot and collected her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. With $524,000 in earnings this season, she is No. 6 on both the LPGA Tour money list and the Rolex Rankings.
Charley Hull is another young player that will compete against Thompson and Ko for dominance in the women’s game in the future. The 18-year-old from England made a rare appearance on the LPGA Tour. She finished T-18 at four-under par.
With veterans like Lewis, Tseng, Christie Kerr and Paula Creamer playing well week after week on the LPGA Tour, plus young stars like Salas, Thompson, Ko and Hull challenging for trophies, the women’s game appears to be in very good shape for the foreseeable future.