ATLANTA — Lizette Salas, who’s tied for the lead with Nelly Korda after 54 holes of the KPMG Girls’s P.G.A. Championship, is just not the identical golfer who closed with a 79 from the ultimate group of the 2013 ANA Inspiration, her first time contending deep into the weekend for a significant title.
That participant brooded over imperfect photographs and prayed that her ball stayed out of bunkers, so little confidence did she have in her sand photographs. Quick ahead eight years to the sixth gap Saturday at Atlanta Athletic Membership’s Highlands course.
After making birdies on 4 of her first 5 holes, Salas’s strategy on the par-4 sixth bounced by means of the inexperienced and landed in a bunker. Salas strolled as much as her ball, surveyed the 50 toes she needed to negotiate to the pin, and smiled. Right here was her probability, she thought, to money in on all of the hours she has spent hitting balls out of the sand throughout her observe periods.
Salas blasted out to a few toes and made the putt. Although she would card six birdies on the entrance 9, the sixth gap par was her spotlight.
“You get this, like, tingle in your abdomen while you pull off a shot that you just’ve been engaged on for therefore lengthy and also you simply have it completely pictured in your thoughts and by some means your physique simply is aware of what to do,” mentioned Salas, who described it as her “greatest shot” of the day.
“I gave myself props after that one,” she mentioned, including, “Simply realizing that I may pull that off simply provides me that momentum to be aggressive.”
Regardless of constantly utilizing longer golf equipment on her approaches than Korda, who bombs the ball, Salas wielded her putter like a magician to make Korda’s appreciable benefit off the tee disappear. She one-putted 11 occasions to Korda’s 5 en path to a 3rd consecutive five-under 67 and a 54-hole complete of 15-under 201.
“Lizette was rolling in some good ones at this time,” Korda mentioned, “and I informed myself, I’ve acquired to hit it near even sustain along with her.”
Korda chased her second-round 63, which tied the championship report, with a 68. Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand, who won the ANA Inspiration in April, carded a 65 and is at 10-under, 5 again.
Salas, 31, and Korda, 22, who’re each searching for their first main title, mixed for 9 birdies on the entrance 9.
“It was a variety of enjoyable, actually,” mentioned Korda who added, “I believe while you get into that mind-set of form of egging one another on, it’s enjoyable, but it surely’s additionally nerve-racking. Your adrenaline undoubtedly will get up there.”
They seemed to be enjoying a special course than most of the others, together with the seven-time main winner Inbee Park, who took 12 extra strokes than Salas’s 30 on the entrance 9 on her option to a 77.
Salas, who went 45 holes and not using a bogey, made her first with a 5 on the par-4 tenth. She didn’t report a birdie on the again 9 — and Korda made just one — because the water hazards on holes 11, 12, 15, 17 and 18 prompted every to place prudence forward of pluck.
“After I made that bogey, I simply mentioned, ‘It’s OK, there’s numerous golf left,’” Salas mentioned. “I believe earlier than I’d have chewed myself up in my head and mentioned a variety of damaging issues.”
On the par-5 18th, Korda had 224 yards to the opening for her second shot. It was an ideal 7-wood, she mentioned, however she determined to put up and settled for a par. Final week, her caddie, Jason McDede, mentioned he would have suggested her to go for the inexperienced in two with out giving it a second thought.
However not this week, with a significant title hanging within the stability. “You inform your self that there’s a lot golf left which you could’t win on a Saturday however you possibly can undoubtedly lose it,” Korda mentioned.
Not all of the hazards had been on the course. Hinako Shibuno, the 2019 Girls’s British Open winner from Japan, misplaced the providers of her caddie, Keisuke Fujino, after he had a constructive coronavirus take a look at. Using a membership caddie who was summoned early Saturday morning, Shibuno carded a 76 that included a ten on the par-3 seventeenth after she put 4 balls within the water.
Salas has one profession L.P.G.A. title, the 2014 Kingsmill Championship. Korda has 5 profession titles, together with two this season and, after a victory final week, is bidding to change into the primary L.P.G.A. participant to win a second consecutive main since Lydia Ko in 2016.
The followers rallied round Salas, who spoke about her psychological well being struggles after her first spherical. They chanted her title as she walked the fairways, and she or he made a degree of greeting some in return.
“I used to be embracing it,” Salas mentioned, including, “It’s been awhile since I’ve finished that.”
She added, “No matter occurs tomorrow, I’m simply pleased with how a lot I’ve overcome to this point.”