Salas closes out amazing Asian Swing
After finishing tied for 10th this week at the Blue Bay LPGA, Lizette Salas ends a swing of five tournaments out of her last six with top-10 finishes.
Salas started Saturday’s final round with back-to-back bogeys, and was 3-over through 5. But, she made two birdies coming in to finish at 1-over-par 73.
“Conditions were really tough this weekend. I have to think really positive. There's one more event, and I get to go home. There's a lot of positives to go into next week. You know, finishing top-10, four out of the five Asia tournaments, (I’m) pretty pleased,” she said. “My body is holding up, which I'm really shocked at this point… I think overall, mentally, I'm getting stronger. I'm really close and you've just got to keep working hard, and, yeah, just keep working.”
Her tie for 10th marked her eighth top 10 of the season, and she pointed to the team around her as the key people that’s helped her achieve the recent successes.
“It's been nice. It's been definitely a confidence booster. It definitely showed me that if I want something and work hard at it, I can get it,” she said of her Asian Swing stretch. “It's been a team effort. Jason (caddie) has been amazing these last five weeks, really helping me get stronger mentally and not be such a ‘Debbie Downer.’ So it's definitely been a team effort and now I know I can fix my swing by myself.”
Jutanugarn positive despite loss
She gave herself a chance, and that’s all Moriya Jutanugarn could ask for.
At 3-under par through nine holes during Saturday’s finale at the Blue Bay LPGA, Jutanugarn had a piece of the lead. She stumbled in with a 1-over-par 37 on the back nine, however, and missed a six-foot putt on the 72nd hole that could have tied her for the lead with eventual winner Shanshan Feng.
It was not to be.
Jutanugarn finished runner-up, her 11th top-10 finish of the year. She was very positive after she finished, however.
“It's so much fun today. You know, I made a lot of good putts, a lot of good shots out there. I'm pretty happy with what's happened,” she said.
She was complimentary of the Chinese fans who were cheering on Feng to victory, especially as Feng is projected to jump to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings for the first time.
Her younger sister, Ariya (who finished tied for 16th), wrapped her arm around her after the dramatics on the 18th hole as they walked to the clubhouse together.
She said she’s looking forward to next week’s season finale back in the United States.
“I'm very ready for another week, and then, you know, for my off-season,” she explained. “It will be nice just to get some rest finally.”
Khang with best result of the year
Megan Khang was 2-over par through five holes, but managed to right the ship quickly during Saturday’s final round in China, going 6-under during a stretch of 10 holes to shoot 4-under-par 68 and finish at 4-under for the tournament.
Her tie for fourth is not only her best result of the season, but also her best-career result on the LPGA Tour.
“I think it's going to build a lot of confidence going into the last tournament, thinking that, okay, I can play out here when it's blowing. I'm sure I can do that at CME, and it's probably going to be blowing, too. But I'm sure Kurt (caddie) and I will work on it and get our numbers right and play well,” she said.
Wie recovers from rough start
Although it wasn’t the start to the tournament Michelle Wie would have liked, sitting 5-over par through two rounds after firing a 76 on Thursday, she bounced back nicely over the final two rounds to record her best finish of the Asian Swing.
“I just really was not feeling well the first… two days. You know, third and fourth day, I just started just lying down in the fairway” she said with a laugh. “I was just trying to conserve energy. Just rest as much as I could… just try to catch up, and felt better the last two days.”
Wie said her caddie helped her through the final two rounds, motivating her to make birdies, and admitting it was tough to score with the high winds and the slower pace of play. By finishing under par, she said she was able to jump up the leaderboard.
She explained she’s now looking forward to next week at the CME Group Tour Championship, as she still isn’t 100 percent recovered from her appendix surgery in August.
“It was tough, you know, coming out of surgery, just literally no days of practice before coming out and threw myself in,” said Wie of her Asian Swing stretch. “I definitely gained a lot of confidence over the last two weeks. I'm really excited for the last week.”
Wie shot a 1-under-par 71 Saturday to close out her week and finish tie for 16th.
O’Toole with solid result
After a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday, Ryan O’Toole recorded one of her best finishes of the season Saturday at the Blue Bay LPGA.
O’Toole, who appeared to be off to the races for the round of the day – sitting 4-under through nine holes – just couldn’t get anything going on the back nine, making two bogeys and two birdies.
“I think it helped starting off early because there was less wind. Course conditions I think have been the same pretty much all week. I think just today was focusing on landing spots and getting better with kind of how the greens are reacting and where to miss the ball, because out here, the pin might be in one place but you're aiming at a whole other place. I just think today was smooth. I didn't have any unlucky bounces or bad lies. For the most part it was really good,” she said.
O’Toole finished tied for 25th here a year ago, and her tie for 19th is her best finish on the LPGA Tour since May.
“I think I like the course. It plays hard, kind of like majors do,” she explained. “Scores aren't super low, so it's not a complete birdie-fest. It challenges all aspects of the game, and I enjoy that. I think sometimes the course defeats half the players before they go out there, so I just try to keep a positive attitude about it and enjoy the resort. It's tropical and nice. You can't really beat it.”