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Salas, among Volvik leaders, is at home on the range

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Lexi Thompson hits her approach on the ninth hole Friday.

Ann Arbor – Lizette Salas knew something had to change.

Entering this week’s Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club, things just weren’t clicking with her game. She missed the cut last week at the Kingsmill Championship, which came two weeks after a quick first-round exit at Lorena Ochoa Match Play.

So with only a few days to spare, Ochoa called in her dad, Ramon, to help her work on making changes to both her swing and her putting.

“He's my go-to guy whenever I need some extra confidence,” Salas said on Friday.

“I made a grip change on my putter yesterday after my round and just I feel really good with the swing that I have. I kind of started off from scratch after Kingsmill after I missed the cut, so I just started from ground zero and worked my way here. Just really having fun.”

VOLVIK CHAMPIONSHIP LIVE SCORING

It’s easy to see why she’s having fun after firing a 7-under 65 – tied for the low score of the second round – to sit at 9-under overall and three shots back of tournament leader Sung Hyun Park, who also shot 65.

And much of it, Salas said, was a credit to the work she did over the last few days, work that improved her confidence once she started to see familiar results on the driving range.

“We just went to work on Monday and I figured out something on the range yesterday that just clicked,” said Salas, a two-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team that has one career victory.

“It's an old-school drill that I did at the beginning of the year and I got my draw back. That's my shot. So when I started seeing that, I started getting more confident and just attacked pins.

“That's really what I've been doing today, and yesterday, too. That's pretty much it.”

It resulted in eight birdies on Friday, a pretty solid showing especially considering Salas bogeyed her first hole of the day when she took a 5 on No. 1.

She clearly bounced back from the early hiccup and birdied four straight at one point before closing with a birdie at No. 18.

“I had birdie chances coming in on 16, 17 and I missed those,” Salas said.

“I knew if I just finish on a good note, hit a couple good shots and hit my number, I could finish with a 65.

“I want to play boring golf, just fairways, hit greens and give yourself a good chance for birdie, so that's what I did today.”

Miyazato to retire

There was plenty of reaction around Travis Pointe on Friday to the news that former world No. 1 player Ai Miyazato was planning to retire.

The Japanese star is not playing this week, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t on the minds of many of the tour players who are in Ann Arbor.

“It’s definitely a big surprise,” said So Yeon Ryu, who hadn’t heard the news until asked about it by reporters.

“I cannot imagine I play on the tour without Ai because she was one of my really good friends. She's the one who always make us feel really happy and she's really looking after all the players. I already feel really sad.”

Added Sweden’s Suzann Pettersen, “Ai and I have gone a long way back, coming up the same path. She came up really about the same time as I did. … Very sad but obviously very happy for her if she kind of retires from competitive golf on her own terms.”

Missing the cut

Some big names won’t be around for the weekend after missing the 1-under cut. In Gee Chun, ranked No. 5 in the world rankings, shot even par, as did No. 8 Sei Young Kim. Other notables that headed home included Paula Creamer (E), Karrie Webb (+1), Michelle Wie (+2) and Morgan Pressel (+5).

Ryu, who entered the week with a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking in the world with Lydia Ko not playing, making the cut proved dicey. She shot 1-under to land right on the line.

“It was definitely sticking in my mind,” Ryu said of making the cut. “So I couldn't really focus on my ball. But I made a birdie at 13 -- I made an eagle yesterday at 14 and then made an eagle again today, so that was definitely a really, really big turning point for me. Hopefully that one gave me a lot of confidence.”

The No. 2-ranked player last failed to reach the weekend when she was disqualified in the second round of the Evian Masters in September of 2014.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/mattcharboneau