JOHNS CREEK, Ga. Lizette Salas relies on precision and big pits to make up a huge power gap against Nelly Korda, and they end up tied with the lead on Saturday in the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Salas was virtually flawless to deliver a 30 on the top nine to go from a 1-shot deficit to a 2-shot lead. After that, she makes her first bow of the week after 45 holes and does not make a birdie again in a third consecutive 5 under 67.
Korda, the 22-year-old man who won the LPGA Tournament last week, played evil-free but could not use her height to capitalize on the par 5s on the Atlanta Athletic Club nine. She had a 68.
They were at 15 under 201, five strokes away from a trio that includes Patty Tavatanakit, the Thai star who won the first LPGA major of the year during ANA Inspiration. Tavatanakit ran down four straight birdies towards the end of her round for a 65.
At her five strokes were Giulia Molinaro of Italy (66) and Frenchman Celine Boutier, who had 69 when they played in the final group with the fellow leaders.
Boutier had reason to think she was not at the tournament when she fell 9 strokes behind as the group approached the turn. She played well. It’s just that Salas played outside of this world, and Korda was not too far behind.
Salas, who started the week by sharing her emotional battle to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, began her round by holding a 45-foot putt over the green. After a wedge to 3 feet for a birdie on the par-5 second, she drained a 35-foot birdie at number 3.
It was set up by another fairway metal. Korda was constantly about 35 meters further than she was from the tea and hit short irons when Salas hit hybrids and clean field metals. It’s a wonder her boyfriend, John Killeen, has not lost any headgear.
Does not matter. The 31-year-old Californian could not miss it. She brought an American Open match – clean field and greens, nothing pretty – to the PGA for women and it worked.
Salas took the lead for the first time with a 5-hybrid up to 25 feet and another long birdie on the par-3 seventh, and she hit a 4-hybrid up to 12 feet in number 8, a hole that yielded only eight birds. the whole round.
But after 45 holes without a thug to start this major, Salas caught a tough lie on the edge of a clean field bunker to the left of the 10th, the ball above her feet while trying to balance on a slope or in the to find sand. She played short, hit a weak wedge and put up two points from 25 feet.
Korda caught her on the 13th with a birdie, and both let pars in.
Both will be looking for their first major on Sunday and will be in the final duel. Salas scored just one victory at the LPGA Tour seven years ago.
Korda is a rising star, the younger sister of Jessica Korda and the daughter of former Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda. She has achieved all five victories and is number 3 in the world, the American who achieves the highest ranking. She had the gallery by her side, with throbbing cheers for Korda on just about every green.
Salas kept plugging, determined to stay happy, even as the grinding of a major deep into the weekend began to take its toll.
Tavatanakit never lost hope, even when she fell ten shots behind, even after her driver cracked in the first round and two days later tried to find a replacement she could trust. The former UCLA star made ground in the final hour with four straight birdies, including her 6-iron to 10-foot on the tough par-3 15th.
“I was just trying to go left, then I pushed one right and I was like, ‘Just carry the water for God’s sake.’ ‘And I did, and in the end it was really close. ‘
The fellow leaders are not so close, though Tavatanakit has not lost hope. This differs from her victory at the ANA Inspiration, where she started the final round with a 5-stroke lead.
“I’m not going to lie, but I like chasing more than I would like the guidance,” she said. “I have something to look forward to or just to look up to all the time. No matter what happens tomorrow, I feel like I’m already having a solid week, if I take my situation with the manager into account. I feel like I’m having it. really proved to myself that I could play out here under all circumstances. ‘