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April 18, 2018

Lizette Salas

Los Angeles, California

Q. All right, Lizette Salas. We're in Los Angeles. You're from right down the road. How does it feel to be playing here in your home town?
LIZETTE SALAS: Feels good. I think the whole tour is excited to be here. We thank Wilshire Country Club for hosting us. I played my college days here at Wilshire, so hopefully that'll give me an advantage. The course is in great condition. There is so much going on around us here in L.A.

No complaints on my end. I grew up about 40 minutes from here and my family gets to come out, so hopefully it'll turn out good for me, and hopefully I'll hold up that trophy.

Q. So you may have the advantage of already having played Wilshire, but you're also playing really well in your own right right now on the LPGA Tour. Talk about your form and what's been really working for you recently.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, I think just it all started in the off-season. I made some changes with my team, with my mentality. I've been hitting the gym a lot just so that prevents injury. I've been playing pretty solid. I am really close to getting my second wind. That's been on my mind.

At the same time, you just have to commit to each and every shot. My putting is coming along. I think overall just my ball striking has been pretty good over the last few weeks. So my game plan hasn't changed. I got both coaches here. Team Salas is ready.

Q. And how special is it going to be for Team Salas to be here watching you this week?
LIZETTE SALAS: It's good. They're excited. Everyone is going to have their purple on on Sunday. Got my little nephews coming. Hopefully be a bigger crowd than it was at Kia. I had a lot of support there. I just feed off their vibe. They cheer very loud for me.

Being so close to home, I'm just so thankful for them to be able to come out.

Q. Hope they get the memo. Wear purple on Sunday, Team Salas.

Q. I heard you have a local connection.

Q. I just wanted to talk to you just about what it meant growing up in Southern California interested in golf.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, okay.

Q. And where you kind of started off playing.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, so I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, city of Azusa.

The way I got into golf was my dad is the head mechanic at the public golf course in our town. I have an older brother and sister that did not have in any interest in golf, so my dad took me to work when I was seven.

Q. So you got all his attention then.
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, I was his last hope. For some -- he had this vision that golf was great for his kids and just great for -- as a family sport.

Luckily I stuck with it. He knew the head pro at the time, and golf was so expensive that my dad had to exchange some labor, like...

Q. Some hours?
LIZETTE SALAS: Some hours just to get a lesson every Saturday. It slowly turned into a few times a week. Started playing some junior golf events.

You know, was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to USC.

Q. Where did you go high school?
LIZETTE SALAS: Azusa High School.

Q. Azusa High School.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. So I played on the boy's team there.

Q. Oh, you did?

Q. They didn't have a girl's team?

I played all over Southern California. I played in junior golf events. Played in some national events just to get some exposure to get recruited. Chose to attend USC on a full golf scholarship. For four years came to Wilshire once a week and practiced.

Q. Oh, you did?

Q. Okay. So once you got to USC and you're playing on a full golf scholarship...

Q. How did that help? Did the training at USC kind of shape...
LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, of course. It changed my life completely. It changed how I thought of myself as a player. I remember just telling my parents, my family, I just want to make the Top 5, to travel, compete.

By my sophomore year I was the No. 1, No. 2 player on the team. I ended up being a four-time all-American like first time in program history, so...

Q. And that really gave you probably the first confidence.
LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, for sure. So by the time I was a junior I really had the confidence to say, You know, I can make it out on the LPGA and I can make a living out of this. You know, it was always a dream, but it really -- I just got a full grasp and it really hit me that I could do it.

So I turned professional right out of college in 2011.

Q. What was your major?
LIZETTE SALAS: Sociology, yeah.

Q. And then you went straight pro you said?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, I turned professional 2011. I played on the Symetra Tour, which is a developmental tour for the LPGA.

My dad actually caddied for me for those three months. We drove around in his truck.

Q. He must have been really proud, right?

Q. Because at that point you were professional.
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, yes and no. Our goal was to be on this tour. We knew that we had to go through that stage in my career to get here. We went through some tough times, arguments and tears and being away from home for the first time.

So it was a big reality check of what I had to do to really make my dreams come true. I went to LPGA Q-School later that year in September, second stage.

Q. The LPGA school?
LIZETTE SALAS: Qualifying school. So September; did well.

Then in December it was like there are three stages, so I went to the second stage in Florida -- well, they're both in Florida. Final stage is in December, and they only get like top 20s.

Q. Top 20 and ties, yeah.
LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, really? When I went to wasn't ties. So the final stage of LPGA Q-School, full status, which gives you -- what does full status mean?

Q. Means get into most tournaments.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, you're eligible to play in most of the tournaments that are on the schedule. Our top 20, and that's it.

And so I actually got that last spot in a playoff with eight other girls for one spot.

Q. Wow. That must've been exciting?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. And both my parents were there. As soon as I made it, the person that called my parents, which was my college coach at USC, Andrea Gaston, and she was just -- she was proud, but almost like shocked because I had -- she was like, I didn't think I taught you this in college. You know, just to, I guess, make a statement, make that big of a statement.

So yeah, my rookie year was 2012. Represented my country three times at the Solheim Cup where the top 12 U.S. players play the top 12 European players. Yeah, so it's been a quick seven years out here on tour, or six.

Q. And then last question is turning now to Wilshire Country Club and the course. You mentioned that you practice here a lot.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, we would come here at least once a week for sure.

Q. Oh, you would?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. There is a lot of ties at this club. They've been so -- I guess just been so nice to our program. They love golf here, obviously.

But I think there is so much prestige in this club. When was the last time they had it here? 2001? They had a tournament here in 2001. They had the seniors here.

I mean, it's a top-notch golf course from start to finish, and the club here is great.

Q. How do you like the playing?
LIZETTE SALAS: It's definitely challenging for sure.

Q. Yeah, okay.
LIZETTE SALAS: It's going to be challenging, and I think it's going to be a great turnout.

Q. Okay. And then any message to young female golfers in the neighborhood that are thinking about considering golf as their...
LIZETTE SALAS: They should. I think golf is something for anyone at any age at any level.

You know, to have access to a club like Wilshire is a great thing. You know, there are so many things for kids nowadays that I think golf is such a powerful sport. It changed my life. Even if a child doesn't want to turn professional, it's great for networking, great for business. It's great to be just social in general.

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