Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas dominate Dow team event; Kupcho notches third victory of 2022

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The chemistry was so good so quickly between Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas at last year’s Solheim Cup that then-assistant captain Stacy Lewis recalled the pair coming off the golf course and saying “Do not break us up.”

After going 2-0-1 at Inverness, the Kupcho and Salas remain undefeated after a commanding five-stroke victory at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Their closing 61 put them 26-under 254, within one stroke of the tournament record.

“I think we just have a lot of faith in each other,” said Kupcho. “We make each other comfortable.”

Lizette Salas of the United States (L) and Jennifer Kupcho of the United States drink champagne after winning the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational at Midland Country Club on July 16, 2022, in Midland, Michigan. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Kupcho, now a three-time winner on the LPGA, including a major, is a leading contender for LPGA Player of the Year. She came into this event No. 9 in the world and heads into next week’s Amundi Evian Championship as a player to watch. The 25-year-old tied for second at Evian as a rookie in 2019.

For Salas, the win at Midland Country Club marked her first LPGA victory in eight years. In that span, she has posted six runner-up finishes, including three at major championships. Salas turns 33 on Sunday.

“Man, it’s been a long time,” she said, “but if I were to win again it would be with Jennifer. We got to spend the whole week together and to continue the momentum that we had back in September. I don’t want to get emotional, but it’s just been a magical week.”

Matilda Castren nearly aced the par-3 18th to lock up solo second alongside partner Kelly Tan. This marks the first top-10 finish of Tan’s career. The pair became close friends while competing on the Epson Tour.

Tan asked Castren, who became the first player from Finland to win on the LPGA last year, to be her maid of honor at her wedding in December.

“I feel like if you would wind back the clock and stop us there and literally tell us in a few years you guys are going to be playing this tournament and you’re going to finish second, I think it was going to be really hard for both of us to believe because we both were really just – I just feel like at the lowest point of our career,” said Tan.

“It just feels really good that we got out of the hole, and being able to compete at such (a) high level and finish second this week proving to us that we could do it.”

Stacy Lewis and Maria Fassi closed with a 59 to jump up to third. Last year, this event served as a springboard for Fassi, who learned a lot playing alongside the fellow Razorback star.

“I mean, I think it’s confidence for both of us,” said Lewis. “I felt like I played some better golf this year and maybe the results haven’t showed, and talking to her, I think she could probably say the same thing.

“Just for both of us to see some putts go in and see some shots go in and doing what you are trying to do, it doesn’t matter what format it is.”

Fassi credited the time spent with Lewis last year for improving her course management. This year, Fassi focused more on the mental side.

“I think the last two days were very good on that regard,” she said. “We’ve been talking a lot and it’s just been cool to see why she’s the player she is. A lot of it comes from her head.”

Sisters Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda closed with a 10-under 60 to move into a share of eighth.

“I was kind of just making pars and coming in for reads,” said Jessica with a laugh.

Former No. 1 Nelly made eight birdies and an eagle on her own ball.

“It’s nice to know that I can still shoot that low and to make some clutch putts, which was really nice,” said Nelly. “It was a lot of fun. We had fun this week, and hopefully, I can carry it into the next couple of weeks as well.”

After co-leading the tournament on Wednesday, Annika Sorenstam and Madelene Sagstrom finished in a share of 28th. A third-round 72 derailed their efforts.

Turns out Sorenstam strained her neck prior to Friday’s round while stretching about an hour before their tee time. She felt better on Saturday, which bodes well for the 10-major winner as she heads to the Senior LPGA next week in Kansas.

“I feel it’s been a great week in a lot of ways,” said Sorenstam. “Haven’t really thought about next week yet. I mean, I’m just one day at a time. As a matter of fact, I’m heading to Minnesota in between, so I’m sure my mind will be a little bit there first.”

Karrie Webb and Marina Alex took a share of 15th. This marked the first time Sorenstam and Webb were in the same field at an LPGA event since 2008. Webb heads next to Kansas, too, for her debut in a senior major.