Lee Lopez takes lead into final round of Four Winds InvitationalPublished 7:41am Sunday, June 22, 2014
SOUTH BEND — Lee Lopez started strong and held firm to shoot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to grab sole possession of the 36-hole lead at 9-under-par in the Four Winds Invitational at Blackthorn Golf Club.
Lopez, who has never led after 36 holes, will take a one shot lead into Sunday over Nicole Vandermade.
The cut was made at 2-over-par and 73 players will tee off on Sunday.
“It was a lot of fun, I drove the ball really well so I honestly gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities out there because I was always in the fairway,” said the Symetra Tour rookie Lopez. “When I hit good shots, I capitalized with birdies and when I didn’t make good shots my short game was good and that helped.”
Lopez made two pars to open her round. Then, she carded back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth holes. Lopez made five straight pars to make the turn at 2-under for the day.
She took over the lead on the tenth hole with a birdie to move to 8-under and seized control with another birdie on the 12th hole to move to 9-under.
“I think the early birdies give you a good boost of confidence. When you’re reading them well and matching the speed to the line it’s great.”
Lopez has already had an impressive first year on the Symetra Tour. She has made all 12 cuts and has seven top 30 finishes, five top 20 finishes and two top 10 results including a tie for fifth at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic.
She currently ranks 25th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and sixth amongst Symetra Tour rookies.
“I’ve been lucky to have really good groups, the girls were really nice. Just to have the opportunity to do this as a job is unreal. I’m just excited to be out here and play everyday.”
The 24-year-old will aim for her first Symetra Tour win today.
“I had some goals heading into this season and I just want to stick with it. I told myself to have a good attitude out there and it is a process, this whole career is a process because you’ll have good weeks and bad weeks. I just want to work on what I’m working on, trust it and honestly enjoy the moment because it’s my first time (in the lead after 36 holes) so it will be really fun.”
A win on today would vault Lopez into the top 10 on the money list and potentially into the top-5. The winner’s share of $22,500 would bump her season total to $36,134, more than fifth on the money list (Kendall Dye — $33,234).
“It would be a great help financially, that is for sure. Just to have the opportunity to win is great. It would be really exciting. Everyday out here is a lot of fun. A win would be great and I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and fighting for it.”
Lopez has performed very well over her last four events, finishing inside the top 30 in each.
Vandermade, who led after the first-round, shot an even-par 72 to sit in solo second place.
Jenni Jenq and Lindy Duncan, who shot a 4-under 68 and 3-under 67 respectively, are tied for third at 6-under for the event.
Madeleine Sheils, Erica Rivard, Selanee Henderson, Garrett Phillips and Jean Reynolds are in a five-way tie for fifth at 5-under for the tournament.
A total of 30 players shot under-par on Saturday.