WILLIAMSBURG — Kingsmill crippled some of the world's best golfers Sunday. Errant tee shots, balls left in bunkers and heartbreaking putts. Double bogeys galore and one unsightly triple.
Such trials and tribulations made Lizette Salas' first LPGA Tour conquest virtually stress-free.
Oh, her knees still shook and her nerves still betrayed her. She still made two bogeys and struck indifferent shots.
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Kingsmill on the James, Williamsburg
But that was to be expected. This is Salas' third season on the circuit, you see, and her patience was wearing thin.
A brilliant, final-round 62 last year at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii vaulted her into a playoff, but she lost to Suzann Pettersen. Salas shared the third-round lead with Cristie Kerr this season at the Kia Classic in her native California but finished a shot behind Anna Nordqvist.
Yes, yes, Salas is only 24. But who's patient at 24, especially when younger competitors such as Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda are winning?
"When I missed the cut in Dallas (two weeks ago), I just felt like I needed a whole different approach," Salas said after earning the Kingsmill Championship's $195,000 XL check. "I felt like I wanted to be perfect all the time. I felt like I needed to play like a top-tier golfer every week. …
"I just took a step back and looked at golf differently. I just tried to have fun this week. That was the most important thing."
Indeed, golf devours perfectionists. If you don't learn to accept bum bounces, others' success and your own flaws, well, you best start buying Rolaids in bulk.
Salas entered the final round with a three-shot cushion over Hee Young Park, and at no time Sunday did anyone draw closer. Not because Salas was tearing up the joint — her even-par 71 was the worst final round for a Kingsmill champion since Kerr's 72 in 2005 en route to a comfortable, five-stroke victory.
It's just that no one pressured Salas enough to test if she'd crack. Yes, Sarah Jane Smith fired a 66 to leapfrog into a second-place tie at 9-under, four back of Salas. But she began the afternoon nine shots behind.
World No. 2 Stacy Lewis never gained traction and triple-bogeyed the last hole. World No. 3 Ko doubled No. 12 to drop five back. And after charging to within three, former No. 1 Yani Tseng doubled 18.
Those adventures paled to Park's. She made an astounding three double-bogeys en route to a 79.
All Salas needed to do was keep herself composed and her ball dry. No worries on either count.
She acknowledged spectators between holes with smiles and thank yous — no Tiger Woods stare here — and engaged in her usual banter with caddie John Killeen.
"We just tried to make it simple, fairways and greens and go from there," he said. "Tried to keep her relaxed, not worried about the situation. Everything but golf we talk about. Anything and everything. We talk music, plane reservations, what we're going to do the next few days, her family, my family, the kids."
Killeen has worked on Tour for 31 years for the likes of Meg Mallon and Kerr, the latter when she won here in 2009. He knows the look of a champion.
"There's so many that can win out here," Killeen said, "but (Salas) has a lot of pride and she's got fight."
That fight was evident on the first hole Sunday, where Salas hit an indifferent approach and tentative birdie putt, leaving herself about 10 feet for par. Hiccup there, and no telling how the day unfolds.
Salas center-cutted the putt.
"Downhill slider to the right," she said. "I even threw in a fist pump because I knew how important that was for me mentally and on a confidence standpoint."
While hosting the PGA Tour from 1981-2002, Kingsmill habitually crowned first-time tournament winners such as Mark Wiebe, Tom Sieckmann, Mike Donald, Ted Tryba, David Duval and Charles Howell III. But only once in its first nine trips here did the LPGA Tour produce a new champion, Pettersen in 2007.
Unlike Salas, those seven pros endured beaucoup Sunday anxiety, five prevailing in playoffs, one by a shot, another by two. Pettersen, for example, needed three extra holes to best Jee Young Lee.
And oh, how Salas would love to approach what Pettersen has accomplished since her Kingsmill breakthrough. Pettersen won four more tournaments that year, including the LPGA Championship major title. She now claims 14 career victories and is ranked fourth in the world.
Kingsmill officials reminded Salas on Sunday that every LPGA winner here has collected at least one major championship. Which major might Salas covet most?
"I'm a southern California girl," she said, "and Kraft Nabisco is really close to my heart and almost in my backyard."
Kingsmill is a continent away from Salas' backyard, but rest assured, always will be close to her heart.