Hot off the heels of Mexico’s Gaby Lopez who rallied late on Sunday for her third-career victory on Tour at the Dana Open presented by Marathon, her fellow countrywoman and Arkansas grad Maria Fassi is fighting to break through for the first time at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G. Fassi recorded her second day in the 60s – a bogey-free, 6-under 66 – to sit in a tie for fourth at -10 overall. The 66 is her best 18-hole score this season and her two-day total of 134 is her lowest 36-hole score since a 132 at the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship, her career-best. Fassi carded six birdies, including five in her last six holes, with four straight coming on Nos. 13-16.
“I just kept giving myself chances. I was below the hole so you can be a little more aggressive on the greens,” said Fassi. “I think after the first two birdies, you just see the cup a little bit bigger and I took advantage of that.”
Fassi says her famous distance off the tee is an advantage around Kenwood Country Club’s Kendale Course. Entering this week, she’s second in driving distance on the LPGA Tour, averaging 275.34 yards with the big dog. Fassi is currently second in the field this week in that statistical category, averaging just a hair over 302 yards through 36 holes.
“I think it's huge. There are so many bunkers that come into play for most of the girls, and I am able to take it over them. I think that creates a huge gap between where I'm at and where they are,” said Fassi, who hit 12 of 14 fairways on Friday. “And then again, the fact that we're not seeing a lot of release this week, it's another huge factor. Most of my distance is carry anyway, so it's been pretty cool to get some of my driver to work.”
Currently 97th in the Race to the CME Globe standings, Fassi admits it isn’t the year she envisioned for herself, but a successful week in Cincinnati could be the turning point for the 24-year-old as the end of the year looms. This will be the sixth time making the weekend in her 14th event of the year with season-best result of third coming alongside playing partner and major champion Stacy Lewis at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Aside from that team competition, Fassi has yet to crack the top 10 in an individual event since the 2021 ShopRite LPGA Classic, where she finished fifth, thanks in part to a final-round 64, her career-low.
“I haven't had the year that I wanted. I'm not where I want on CME rankings either. You start putting so much pressure on yourself, and I've been really working and trying to overcome all of that,” said Fassi. “I'm very happy that these last two days have been good. A lot of very positive things. A lot to improve. But very happy with the way my mental game is and really excited for this weekend.”