Can Lizette Salas Win on Sunday?
The Kingsmill Championship sits on the James River, in the vicinity of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown. Can you get any more American than that? The original lost colony, the British surrender, and all that colonial charm? This is the state of Thomas Jefferson and his alma mater, the College of William and Mary.
Lizette Salas, in contrast to Williamsburg, is a modern California woman, charming though she is, and doesn’t care one bit if the British are coming. She’s trying to get a stranglehold on the field entering the final day of the Kingsmill Championship, and she’s doing a fine job of it so far.
Lizette’s rookie year was 2012, and she’s been getting her bearings on the upper tier of the leaderboard ever since. It seems as if lately, she’s always there somewhere, and I’ve been waiting for her to have one of those weeks where it all comes together for a while now. This could be the one.
Heading into the final day, amidst all that charm, not to mention some heavy rough, more water than you’d ever want to see on a golf course, and cannons ( yes, cannons overlooking the river at the rough’s edge), she’s carved out a three stroke lead over some heavy hitters. At thirteen under, she is in a commanding position to take home her first LPGA trophy.. On the other hand, three strokes can disappear quickly on a so-so day, while someone else gets the hot hand. We’ve seen it many times before, and one’s got to wonder how she’s feeling.
Hee Young Park is three strokes behind at ten under. Lydia Ko is five back, and so is Stacy Lewis. Lexi sits at six back. One would think this is a perfect set-up for a first victory. With these leaders, however, Lizette doesn’t just want to go out and shoot par. That very likely won’t cut it. Stacey Lewis won last week with some impressive golf, and it’s probably not out of her system yet. Lydia Ko, who knows? She could go off like a bomb at any time. Hee Young Park? We see her name all the time. The women chasing Salas are dangerous, and it’s a fair question to ask if she’ll get a tranquil night’s sleep.
What would most of us prefer, to be three ahead, and have to fend off the best in the game, or be somewhere in the hunt, and hope for a hot hand on the final day? Is it good to play defense with a three-shot pad? Can shyness set in, being too safe, the pressure of choking? A three shot lead would be a lot better if it were a six shot lead, but oh well…it’s a three shot lead.
The Lizette Salas story is an inspiring one, a story that erodes the pre-eminence of elitism in the game.Â She’s a family-oriented person who became the first to represent them by going to college. Playing on the USC golf team, she has more to offer than personal inspiration by going to a first rate school and excelling in intercollegiate competition. She plays golf well almost every week, and she’s put three excellent rounds together in Virginia.
California is a long way from colonial America, but so is Texas, Korea and New Zealand. She has as good a shot as anyone, in fact, better than anyone if she keeps it together. Lizette Salas doesn’t need to show up in a three-cornered hat. She needs to silence the outer noise, remain tranquil, and make good decisions. In her amateur career, she was good at that, and she seems to have an excellent shot at walking away with the Kingsmill if she can do it again by the side of the James River, with all that charm.