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Jennifer Kupcho, Lizette Salas snag 4-shot lead at LPGA team event

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Jun 23, 2022; Bethesda, Maryland, USA; Lizette Salas plays her shot from the 11th tee during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas teamed up to shoot a bogey-free, 6-under 64 to establish a four-shot lead Friday after the third round of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich.

The Americans moved to 17 under through three rounds at the team event at Midland Country Club. Finland’s Matilda Castren and Malaysia’s Kelly Tan posted a 67 to take over second place at 13 under.

“We were just out there playing, and I feel like that’s what we’re best at, is having fun together,” Kupcho said. “I feel like we definitely did that today, and that’s how we were so calm in shooting that.”

Kupcho earned her first two wins on the LPGA Tour this year, first at the major Chevron Championship and later at the Meijer LPGA Classic. Salas, an LPGA veteran, is going for her second career victory and her first since 2014.

The event is being contested by two-player teams. The first and third rounds were played in foursomes (alternate shot) while the second and fourth rounds are fourball (best-ball).

Playing alternate shot, the more difficult of the two formats, Salas and Kupcho combined for birdies at the sixth and seventh holes. At No. 9, Kupcho stuck an approach to within a few feet and Salas finished off the birdie.

They added another pair of consecutive birdies at the par-4 14th and 15th, and Salas drained a long, left-to-right birdie putt at No. 17 to cap things off.

“We were just calm, and we kind of just wanted to separate ourselves a little bit and give us some sort of cushion for tomorrow knowing that we’re playing our own ball and the scores can get deep,” Salas said.

Castren and Tan recovered from an opening bogey to put four birdies on the card.

France’s Pauline Roussin and the Netherlands’ Dewi Weber were the 36-hole leaders after Roussin’s hole-in-one helped them to a 61 Thursday. They had a tougher time Friday, posting double bogeys at the par-3 13th and 18th holes to shoot a 3-over 73.

That dropped the team into a tie for third at 11 under with Tiffany Chan of Hong Kong and Haeji Kang of South Korea (69).

Tied for fifth at 10 under were A Lim Kim of South Korea and Yealimi Noh (69), Cheyenne Knight and Elizabeth Szokol (66) and Marina Alex and Australia’s Karrie Webb (69).

“Definitely today was a lot more comfortable than the first round,” said Webb, a seven-time major champion. “It is an awkward format, but the leaders haven’t gotten away from us. We saw a 59 yesterday, so I think the scores will be low tomorrow. We’ll have to go out and post one early and hopefully that will hold up.”

–Field Level Media