Lizette Salas Breaks Through for 1st LPGA Win at Kingsmill

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIMay 19, 2014

Lizette Salas won the Kingsmill Championship.
Lizette Salas won the Kingsmill Championship.Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Lizette Salas has been knocking on the door, and it finally opened for her at the Kingsmill Championship, where she collected her first win on the LPGA Tour on Sunday.

Her journey from humble beginnings has been well-documented, and her trip to the LPGA Tour is a true American success story.

She turned professional out of the University of Southern California in 2011 and earned her way onto the LPGA Tour for the 2012 season. Salas has 10 career top-10 finishes and has won over $1.2 million in just a little over two years on tour, but she had not been able to find the winners circle.

She finished tied for third in the first tournament of the year at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and was runner-up at the Kia Classic in March.

She posted six top-10 finishes last year, including a runner-up finish at the LPGA Lotte Championship and a third-place finish at the Safeway Classic.

Salas held a three-shot lead over Hee Young Park from South Korea after 54 holes at Kingsmill, and Salas' final round of even par was good enough to give her the win.

Park had a tough day on Sunday, posting an eight-over-par 79 and falling to T-29.

Stacy Lewis began the final round tied for third with Lydia Ko and Katherine Kirk, but her three-over-par 74 left her at T-12. She finished outside the top 10 for only the second time in 10 starts this season.

Lewis is trying to overtake Inbee Park and regain the No. 1 world ranking. She was No. 1 for four weeks in 2013 before Park won three major championships last year.  

Ko, who is ranked No. 3 in the world behind Lewis, had another solid finish. Four consistent rounds of 70-68-67-71 left her at eight under par and tied for fifth with So Yeon Ryu.

Three players finished the day tied for runner-up, four shots behind Salas.

Sarah Jane Smith began the day T-14, but a five-under-par 66 moved her 13 spots up the leaderboard for a tie for second.

Yani Tseng, former world No. 1 and winner of five major titles, also carded a strong finish on Sunday. Tseng had one of her better tournaments in some time, posting 68-70-68-69 to finish at nine under par and tied for runner-up.

Lexi Thompson also finished in a tie for the second spot and collected her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. With $524,000 in earnings this season, she is No. 6 on both the LPGA Tour money list and the Rolex Rankings.

Charley Hull is another young player who will compete against Thompson and Ko for dominance in the women’s game in the future. The 18-year-old from England made a rare appearance on the LPGA Tour, finishing T-18 at four under par.    

Hull is leading the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit and will play in next week’s Airbus LPGA Classic presented by JTBC in Mobile, Alabama.

With veterans such as Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng, Christie Kerr and Paula Creamer playing well week after week on the LPGA Tour and young stars such as Salas, Thompson, Ko and Hull challenging for trophies, the women’s game appears to be in very good shape for the foreseeable future.