Salas, Lewis set for ShopRite LPGA Classic

By Associated PressMay 30, 2013, 9:24 pm

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Lizette Salas is quickly emerging as America’s best-kept secret on the LPGA.

While the 23-year-old Californian is winless since joining the tour last year, Salas has jumped all the way to No. 18 in the women's world rankings. This year alone, she has four top-10 finishes, is ranked No. 5 with a 70.0 scoring average and has earnings of $382,440, seventh best on tour. If she keeps it up, she will soon be in Colorado on the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

Not bad for someone who grew up playing softball, basketball and volleyball and only had time to learn golf on weekends. In fact, she picked up her tour card by winning a nine-person playoff for the final spot at qualifying school.

''I think what's different this year is my mentality,'' Salas said on Thursday afternoon, a day before teeing off in the $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic, outside Atlantic City. ''I am a lot more confident than I was last year when I was getting my feet wet and trying to see what worked for me out there when it was trial and error.''

The changes late last year weren't minor. Salsa hired a new coach (Jim Gormley), changed her caddie (Greg Puga) and got new equipment.

''It was a big chance and a big risk,'' Salas said. ''I had my best finish with a ninth in Malaysia, and I think that was the spark that carried my confidence from last year into this year. I am just having a lot more fun this year.''

Salsa also has learned to put herself into contention most weeks. She has been in the top 20 in seven of 10 events, including a loss in a playoff to Suzann Pettersen in Hawaii.

Salas played a nine-hole stretch on the final day in 9 under to get into the playoff.

A couple of weeks earlier, she was in position to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship but closed with a 79 to tie for 25th.

''I am not even in my second full year on tour, and I have been learning so much in the last seven or eight months that has not only helped my golf game but my mental game at the same time,'' she said.

Salas, who played on the Symetra Tour in 2011, had considered hiring a sports psychologist but realized she has all the support she needs from her family. But that's the way it has always been.

Her parents, Ramon and Martha, immigrated from the same region in Mexico. They met working at a factory in California, got married, had three children and became U.S. citizens. Lizette was the youngest.

She developed a love for golf after visiting her father at the Azusa Greens Golf Course, where her father is the chief mechanic and did some handyman work for club professional Jerry Herrera.

Instead of getting paid for the work, Ramon Salas asked Herrera to give his daughter golf lessons on the weekends.

''I knew at a very young age this sport was going to get me an education, just because I knew my parents could not afford $50,000 a year,'' Salas said. ''So I made it a goal of mine to get a scholarship to any university, and when I got to high school, I got more serious and had a lot of top universities calling. I was not only overwhelmed. I was scared.''

Salas eventually decided to accept a scholarship at the University of Southern California, where she led the Trojans to an NCAA championship and became the school's first four-time All-American.

Even after college, Ramon Salas helped. He caddied for his daughter and built a putting aid to help her on the greens.

''He means just so much to me,'' Salas said.

There is another person who is helping Salas. Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez has talked with her, and the two met earlier this year in Arizona.

''I really respect her a lot, not just because of her golf game or the fact she is a Hall of Famer,'' Salas said. ''Just the fact that she is still giving back to the game of golf, helping upcoming players. That says a lot about her character. She actually texted me yesterday to call her. We've established a relationship, and she is teaching me the ropes on how to be a successful tour player. All I have to do is listen and try to do what she says with my own style. I can't be the next Nancy Lopez or Lorena Ochoa, but I can definitely make my own statement on this tour and I am going to have a lot of fun with it.''

Stacy Lewis will be defending her title at the ShopRite Classic on the Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x