Longtime friends and Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational partners Matilda Castren and Kelly Tan put together a 3-under 68 on Friday at Midland Country Club and currently sit in solo second with 18 holes to go in Michigan, three back of the lead at 15-under. “Team FinnAsia” got off to a slow start, bogeying their first and fourth holes, trying to flip their momentum with a birdie on the par-4 5th hole. While that birdie settled their nerves, Castren and Tan remained in neutral, making seven consecutive pars on their next seven holes. They finally picked up their second birdie of the day on the par-3 13th hole and backed that up with another on hole 14, closing with a birdie on the par-3 18th to post a third-round 68 and leave themselves some ground to make up on championship Saturday. Though the start was frustrating, the pair were pleased with their finish and are looking to go deep in the red in the final round to hopefully make up some of the ground they lost today.
“I think we just keep playing our game and give my partner a chance,” Tan said. “I think (Matilda) was doing the same for me. Eventually, we made one and got the momentum going. Especially the back nine really.”
Castren, especially, was happy to see some of their putts finally start to drop. “The putts were really burning the edges,” said the 2021 LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship winner. “We knew that eventually they would drop, and they did. Then we kind of got off on a better streak.”
With Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas’ final-round 61 in the 2022 edition of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational that lifted them to victory, some may forget that Castren and Tan finished as runners-up with a 72-hole total of 21-under. It was an impressive performance as the duo carded rounds of 69-61-67-62 throughout the four days of combined alternate shot and four-ball, but the partners want revenge on Saturday at Midland Country Club and plan to keep things simple as they search for that seemingly elusive “W”, even though they trail Cheyenne Knight and Elizabeth Szokol by three strokes.
“Hit the fairway, then hit the green, then make the putt,” said Castren when asked of Team “FinnAsia’s” gameplan in the final-round four-ball. “Just stick to our game plan and just try not to put too much pressure on ourselves and hit some good shots. Like, try to stay in the present and just kind of let it have a good flow.”
And Tan is confident that they can recreate some of the same magic that helped them to an 8-under 62 on the final day last year. If they can mount a comeback from three down, it would be the Malaysia native’s first victory in her 10-year LPGA Tour career. “I think we're in a good spot. I felt like we've played really great the last three days. That's why we're where we are today,” she said. “We're just going to really try and go out and have fun tomorrow. It's best ball, so we're going to make birdies and hopefully we'll see where it puts us at the end of the round.”