From a distance, Salas’ father knows best
Lizette Salas’ father wasn’t on hand in Williamsburg, Va., for last week’s Kingsmill Championship, his daughter’s first career victory on the LPGA. Instead, family and friends gathered around the television in Southern California to watch.
But in a way, he was directly responsible for the victory. After missing the cut at the North Texas LPGA Shootout three weeks ago, Salas challenged herself mentally and returned to an old putting tool that her father, Ramon, had manufactured for her three years ago.
“I just took a step back and looked at golf differently,” Salas said. “I just tried to have fun this week. That was the most important thing.”
The daughter of Mexican immigrants grew up in Azusa, Calif., where her father was a mechanic at Azusa Greens Golf Course, a public course in the Southern California town. Ramon traded work for golf lessons for his children and spent time away from his job driving Lizette around the country in a red pickup truck as she moved up the professional ladder. He also built a putting tool that helped her win on Sunday.
“He made this L-looking stick where you just put it into the green with your alignment stick covering over it,” Salas said. “It just makes my putter stay low to the ground and really focus on having that arc through the line.
“It really helped me stay down through the ball and visualize my line. It just made it a lot simpler for me to make putts out there. He made it for me when I was on the Symetra Tour. I decided to bring it out this week, so in some sense dad was here this week.”
Salas had 113 putts for the week, including sub-30 totals in the first three rounds. For the year, Salas is 10th in Putting (29.47). She also rose to 10th the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, taking Cristie Kerr’s top-10 spot.
Additionally, Salas became the initial first-time winner in 2014 and the first player to win for the first time since Teresa Lu won the Mizuno Classic in Japan last November.
Lexi in Alabama
Watch out for Lexi Thompson. The 19-year-old is on a roll headed into one of her most comfortable playing locations this week, the state of Alabama.
In her last three starts this season, Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, finished T6 at the North Texas LPGA Shootout and placed T2 last week at the Kingsmill LPGA Championship. During that streak, she has recorded 11 consecutive rounds of par or better – with eight of those in the 60s – and earned $422,990 (69 percent) of her $614,875 winnings in 2014.
Thompson has risen to fifth in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and has finished in the top five four times in nine events this season.
Thompson’s record at the two Alabama tournaments on the LPGA is sterling, with a win, a second and contending for the title in all six starts over the last four years as both an amateur and professional.
Here’s a look at her Alabama performances:
|2009||Navistar LPGA, Prattville||14-year-old amateur tied for lead with opening 65-69||T27|
|2010||Navistar LPGA, Prattville||First-year pro, 15, opened 69-68-68||T16|
|2011||Avnet Classic, Mobile||16-year-old tied for third-round lead before final-round 78||T19|
|2011||Navistar LPGA, Prattville||First-time winner was youngest LPGA winner ever*||1|
|2012||Mobile Bay LPGA, Mobile||Shot 66-65 on weekend, finished one behind Stacy Lewis||2|
|2013||Mobile Bay LPGA, Mobile||Opened with 65, finished with 67||T10|
|*-Since surpassed by Lydia Ko.|
One year ago, three Americans were ranked in the top 15 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Seven are in the top 15 this week. … Paula Creamer’s streak of 82 consecutive made cuts ended last week at the Kingsmill Championship. She shot 73-72 to miss the cut by one stroke. It was her first missed cut since the 2010 Safeway Classic. … France’s Joanna Klatten holed a 3-wood from 225 yards on the 15th hole last week for the first double eagle on the LPGA in two years. It was the first double eagle for Klatten and the first on the LPGA since March 16, 2012 when Hannah Yun did it on the 15th hole at the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup. There have been 31 double eagles in LPGA history. … Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith picked the right place to find her game last week. With husband Duane caddying, Smith recorded a career-best T2 at the Kingsmill Championship. When she was on the 2008 Futures Tour, the Smiths drove overnight to Kingsmill and parked in the Kingsmill parking lot in the middle of the night. They went to a local hotel and when they returned to the golf course the next afternoon, the entire parking lot had been paved – except for their parking spot where their car remained. … Jennifer Johnson, this week’s defending champion at the Airbus LPGA Classic presented by JTBC, is coming off consecutive T12 finishes, her best results of the season.