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.

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”