Former USC standout Lizette Salas and fellow American Cristie Kerr are tied for the lead entering Sunday’s final round of the $1.7 million Kia Classic at the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Resort in Carlsbad.
Salas, who began Saturday’s third round in fourth, three shots behind leader Dori Carter, shot a three-under-par 69 to drop to 10-under for the tournament.
“I just really tried to minimize my mistakes and today on the front nine, my driver was just on,” said Salas, who had a birdie and eight pars on the front nine. “I hit really good putts out there that weren’t dropping.”
Salas was followed by about 100 relatives and friends wearing purple “Team Salas” T-shirts. Salas said the color was chosen because her coach, Jim Gormley, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and purple is the color to support people with the disease.
Kerr, who was in second at the start of the round, two shots behind Carter, fired a two-under-par 70 in a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.
She kept her share of the lead by sinking a 60-foot putt for par on the 18th. hole after hitting her second shot into the greenside water and taking her drop on the fringe of the green.
“That was pretty amazing,” Kerr said. “It really is one of those moments that you just remember for a lifetime. I mean it’s one in how many that you’re going to make? I was just trying to get it close. Usually that’s when those go in.”
Salas, who was raised in Azusa, is seeking her first victory on the LPGA Tour. Kerr is seeking her 17th.
Carter shot a two-over-par 74 to drop into a four-way tie for third at 8- under-par.
“I didn’t putt very well today, but I didn’t have easy putts today like I did yesterday,” Carter said.
The winner will receive $255,000 and a 2015 Kia K900, the automaker’s first luxury sedan.
— City News Service