DECATUR, ILLINOIS, June 14, 2014 – Ashley Tait fired a second-round 3-under 69 to snag sole possession of the 36-hole lead at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic presented by Tate & Lyle and Decatur Park District on Saturday. Tait is 8-under for the event, two strokes clear of Madison Pressel.
The cut line was teetering between 2-over and 3-over and ultimately fell at 3-over so 86 players will tee off on Sunday.
Tait made three straight pars to open her round before a bogey dropped her down to 4-under.
A critical turning point was a long birdie putt on hole number six.
“I wasn’t hitting my irons very good on the front nine, I had a lot of 20 and 30-footers, but I just told myself to be patient,” said Tait. “Luckily I drained one on the par-5 sixth from 20-feet and that gave me some confidence and finally I started hitting the ball a little better on the back.”
Tait made bogey on the tenth before picking up two strokes with an eagle on the 11th.
“I just three-putted the tenth and wasn’t happy about that, but I knew 11 was downwind so I hit a nice tee shot and I knew I could get it there – I was 235-yards out. I hit it perfect over the bunker, 12-feet past and drained the putt and that was big.”
Tait proceeded to make back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes to grab sole possession of the lead.
She made four straight pars to close her round.
“I’m trying to stay calm and patient, I’m going to go into tomorrow with the same confidence I had today. I’m going to tell myself that I can do it and I belong up there.”
Tait will zero in on her first Symetra Tour win and first top-10 finish. Her best finish came at the 2013 Credit Union Challenge when she placed in a tie for 25th.
“It would mean everything (to win), out here all it takes is one win. A win boosts confidence like none other. I know I can do it, I’ve played really consistent all year and I just haven’t had that really good finish. I’d move up quite a bit on the money list and I’d be really happy.”
Madison Pressel is two shots off the lead at 6-under. Lee Lopez is in solo third place at 5-under while Jessica Wallace shot a 2-under to move into solo fourth at 4-under.
She has earned $3,003 so far this year. With a $15,000 winner’s check, she would increase her earnings to $18,003, which would move her to 15th on the money list if nobody else around that spot earns money.
“I’m really happy with how I am playing right now,” said Pressel. “I made some putts which is definitely a great thing and I left a few out there, but I’m just saving them for tomorrow.”
Pressel had her best round of the season on Friday with a 5-under 67.
On Saturday, She made three birdies against two bogeys. When she birdied the first hole, she grabbed sole possession of the lead. She bogeyed the fourth and then made birdie on the ninth hole to make the turn at 1-under. The 22-year-old made birdie on the 16th hole and then bogey on the 18th.
“I’ve been working really hard and it hasn’t been showing in score but it has been showing in how I feel like I’m hitting the ball. I was just making a mistake like a three-putt or a double and that really affects your score out here. I’ve been able to go two rounds without a double or a three-putt. I’m making more birdies and that is what you need to do.”
Pressel recently made a slight change to her putter that has paid dividends.
“I switched to a new odyssey putter with a white hot insert in it and I just feel like it comes off the face so purely and the ball gets started rolling right away – there is no jump or bounce.”
Pressel will have to deal with the nerves of being in the final group for the first time as a professional.
“I think I just won’t even think about it (being in contention). It’s another day of golf and I think I was able to handle myself well today and I don’t expect it will be any different tomorrow. I’ve been in the position before in college and junior golf and I know this is where I am supposed to be so I feel comfortable.”
Woods made consecutive birdies on the sixth and seventh holes.
Her best finish on Tour this year is a tie 14th at the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club.
Her performance shouldn’t be a surprise. She has finished inside the top-30 in each of the last three events.
From 139-yards out, Loomboonruang took out a 6-iron and knocked in her first career hole-in-one.
“It was exciting, especially because I had two bogeys with three-putts back-to-back so I needed to come back a little bit,” said Loomboonruang. “Then, I made two birdies in a row to come back to even par and then I made a hole-in-one.”
Her explanation of the ace was priceless.
“I hit the ball a little thin but so straight so I was yelling at the ball to go and it got over the bunker, but I didn’t see the ball go in. My caddie was looking for the ball and I was like ‘where did my ball go?’ Then, I heard my grandma scream ‘yeah’ and I was like ‘yes, I made it!’
The Bangkok, Thailand native was 4-under for the day to jump from a tie for 73rd to a tie for 11th.
She finished in a tie for fourth last week at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship.
Lopez has a chance to become the first Symetra Tour rookie to win this season.
Lopez, who is 28th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, has one top-10 finish this year. She currently ranks fifth amongst Symetra Tour rookies on the money list.
Bret Lasky, Coordinator, Symetra Tour Media, firstname.lastname@example.org, 386-679-1292