BELLEAIR, Fla. — Maria Fassi knew that a strong putting stroke would go hand in hand with her explosive power. This led to low scores. It finally came together for her at a good time.
Fassi powered her way through the rain-softened Pelican Club and rode a smooth, putting stroke to an 8.-under 62, which was her career low on LPGA Tour. She now holds a two-shot advantage in the Pelican Ladies Championship.
This tournament is the last before the top 60 players qualify for CME Group Tour Championship, which has a $7 million prize pool.
Fassi, a 24-year-old Mexican woman, is No. 72.
Fassi stated, I think that every one of us out there wants to finish the Year at CME. It was a difficult season at the beginning, but I started to get back on track towards the middle and the end of the year. Now that I have a chance and especially after todays round its time to just keep doing what youve been doing today.
Fassi felt confident and returned to her claw , putting grip. Fassis power was even more impressive on soft fairways that had little roll.
Carlota Ciganda, Lexi Thompson, and Hyo Joo Kim were some of those who attended 66. Thompson ended a streak that lasted more than three years with no victory at the Saudi-funded Aramco Team Series, New York, last month.
Gaby Lopez opened with 65. Nelly Korda was at 66. Lydia Ko, who can win the LPGA player of year award with a victory, was six back after a 68.
The Pelican Women’s Champion was washed out Thursday by Tropical Storm Nicole and was reduced down to 54 holes.
Fassi decided to get a hybrid to replace her 5-wood. After a great drive on the par-5 14th, Fassi found the perfect club with a 5-wood.
Fassi said, I was like OK. This is interesting.
She thought her hybrid would be a little short of the green. But there was just enough wind behind her and enough power in her swing to get it onto the green. It rolled out to 8ft, making it an eagle hole.
Fassi said, Honestly, it was a great putt for the eagle and it was nice to finish it with a good putt.
After graduating from Arkansas, she was one of the most admired college stars. But her inability to control her power has been what has kept her back. To be serious about competing on the LPGA Tour, it took her until her 15th attempt. She tied for third in Cincinnati.
Fassi said, I knew a round like that could happen at anytime during the year. But it was more mental and just kinda letting myself go and play, kinda getting out of my own way. This was my greatest goal this week.
Linn Grant from Sweden, who won the Scandinavian Mixed when the European tour, Ladies European Tour, and the Scandinavian Mixed competed against one another, will not be attending the CME Group Tour Championship. Grant stated to Golfweek that she cannot travel to the U.S. as she is not vaccinated for COVID-19.
I can understand why some people would like to know why Im not playing in America. That is something I respect. She said that the simple reason is that I have not been vaccinated. Regarding the reason, I ask for the same respect back.