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April 24, 2019

Lizette Salas

Roberta Bowman

Los Angeles, California

THE MODERATOR: Good morning everyone, and thank you so much for joining us here on the this very special day. Some of you may know, some may not, but last month the LPGA launched its new brand positioning we like to call DriveOn.

These two special women I have with me have been a big part of that. So first off I to introduce who is up here on stage today. The woman who has really led the LPGA through this brand positioning, our Chief Branding Communications Officer, Roberta Bowman.

ROBERTA BOWMAN: Good morning, all.

THE MODERATOR: And a person who's very familiar in this area, LPGA Tour winner, Azuza, California native, and USC alum, Lizette Salas. (Applause.)

DriveOn is very near and dear to our hearts here at the LPGA, including these two women. To kind of introduce everybody to DriveOn a little bit more, I really wanted to welcome our commissioner by video to explain a little bit to everybody about what DriveOn is.

MIKE WHAN: Recently there has been a lot of discussion about diversity and inclusion, women's empowerment, authenticity, individual leadership.

At the LPGA we are excited to see governments and businesses and associations all around the world embrace these important social issues, but at the LPGA these things have been part of our DNA for 70 years. At the LPGA we're a living, breathing example of these important topics.

Our athletes don't have multi-million-dollar contracts with option years and no-trade clauses. They're independent, successful, businesswomen. They run their own businesses. They hire and fire their own teams. These athletes are moms, kids. They come from all over the world in every shape and size.

Now, they probably don't look like, walk like, talk like, your stereotype of what a leader should be. You know what? That's okay with them. They know the difference they're making is on the next generation, the young ones that watch them and are inspired by them.

Understand this simple fact: More companies have joined LPGA in the last few years than at any time in our history. More businesses are joining us now than ever before. Why is that? I'm sure they love the talent and skill these professional athletes bring to the golf course, but what's really clear is they love and respect what these athletes represent and how they impact so much more than golf.

When you see the LPGA you might think of great golfers. Don't being surprised if your young daughters and sons see so much more: Empowerment, individuality, role models.

We felt it was time to position our unique group of athletes, teachers, and leaders exactly as they are: standing on the shoulders of the women who came before them, and fully prepared to put the future on their shoulders.

I hope you enjoy the LPGA repositioning that we call DriveOn. For 70 years, women have been driving on to create greater opportunities for the women that will follow them. To our incredible sponsors who saw these qualities in us maybe before we did, to our global fans that helped spread the word and change the face of leadership worldwide, and to our athletes and teachers who inspire us, and more importantly inspire the generation that will follow. To all of you, we have two simple words: DriveOn.

THE MODERATOR: Roberta, Mike did a beautiful job there of explaining a little bit more of DriveOn. We are excited today because we are launching the second spot of this campaign. A month ago we launched the first.

Tell us a little bit about the reaction and how that really went over with what the LPGA launched.

ROBERTA BOWMAN: Yeah, thanks Kelly, and good morning everyone. Ever brand refresh needs a centerpiece. For us, it was a 45-second film called, This is for Every Girl. It was a different kind of piece than the LPGA had done in the past, and our goal was to attract viewers and interest outside of hard-core golfer.

So we did a piece that rang true to who we were as athletes and who we were as women as well. So without further ado, let me share with you that 45-second piece, This is for every girl.

(Video shown.)

ROBERTA BOWMAN: So as we said, we launched this on March the 20th, and took a brave step into the world of social media. We didn't know quite what to expect. Our expectations were very high, and frankly the results exceeded our expectations.

We had interest well beyond the golf community, well beyond sports, and obviously well beyond women and girls as well, which is exactly what our goal was.

Since March the 20th, the most common question I've gotten is: What next?

When we were working with our creative partners Ogilvy Worldwide, it was an all-female creative team; none of them were golfers. Part of their learning curve was to learn about the LPGA, and the very first story I shared was Lizette Salas'.

We wanted to finish this piece to launch today because this is Lizette's community; you are her community. So I'm very proud to share the world premier of our next DriveOn spot.

(Video shown.)


ROBERTA BOWMAN: I have to say every time I look at that ad I want to see it again. If you'll indulge me, let's roll it again. (Applause).

THE MODERATOR: Lizette, first off congratulations. It is just so amazing to see that story being told to the world that so many of us here at the LPGA have had the benefit of knowing for a long time.

I know that speech is actually from your 2011 USC graduation when you really shared your story to a broad audience for the first time. That was just a little snippet into who you are and the story to get here, but take us back through how you got to that graduation stage and how you got to be a professional golfer.

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. First of all, thank you all for coming. As you may or may not notice, that voice, my voice was cracking. I was so nervous. I was terrified because that was indeed the first time I really shared my true story with everyone. I felt like that was the perfect time. I was on the USC golf team, and the athletic director at the time, Pat Haden, asked me to do it. He knew my story and all the struggles that my family had gone through, and he thought it was perfect for that type of ceremony.

And so I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how everyone was going to react. But I knew that my story is what USC represents. USC gave me the opportunity to overcome obstacles, to get an education, and to really mature as a woman, as an athlete, and, I mean, as a student-athlete actually.

My entire family was there. The athletic student body was there. I'm still shaking thinking about it. It was just a pivotal moment in my young career. Shortly after I turned pro, but just looking at my mom and dad in the crowd, we did it as a family. My goal was to get a degree, and I didn't -- I didn't really think about the four-time all-American, the two-time Pac 10 Player of the Year.

I didn't think about that. I just thought about what it took to get to that point. There was a lot of no's, like you shouldn't do this or why are you doing that? Looking at my parents now, that's the reason why I did it. My two nephews right here, they're the reason I keep doing this, and for other young girls and boys who have gone through similar situations and have -- I don't know. This has all been just a dream come true for all of you us.

To now be on this platform that Roberta has given me and the LPGA, I'm just so forever grateful. To be the second video for DriveOn is really quite special. At USC we have the phrase, Fight on, and I think both phrases resonate with me and my family. My parents didn't come to this country with much, and I do all of this for them.

Yeah, I don't want to cry so I'm going to stop that.

ROBERTA BOWMAN: May I just use my prerogative. We've got Lizette's family here and her very close friend. Could you just stand for us to appreciate your role in Lizette's story. (Applause.)

THE MODERATOR: Lizette, you talked a little bit about that journey. Take us back to when you first learned to play golf and when you started. I know you're the youngest of your family and the only really big time golfer.

LIZETTE SALAS: Only golfer period.

THE MODERATOR: What was that like? How did you get started? I know your dad played such a huge role in that.

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. So I believe my story started before I was even born. Both my parents are immigrants from Mexico. My dad has worked at a golf course as a mechanic since 1975 in '78, one of those times.

You know, he just really was interested in the game; had no background in it whatsoever. I was seven years old and he asked me if I wanted to go to work with him. I kind of had an idea what he did but I didn't know where he did it.

I stepped foot on the range and he handed me a golf club, which he probably made himself, and just started swinging. His friend was the head pro at the time, and comes over, I get introduced, and he asked if I would like to get a lesson.

Sure, okay. My dad was -- he wanted to, but he knew that golf was very expensive. He's like, Well, we'll think about it. The instructor said, We'll figure something out. Later down the line I realized my dad was doing side jobs for him. Whether it was yard work or fixing his car, he did whatever so I could get to the course every Saturday.

From then I just started playing for the club, and I remember this really distinctly, because as a kid I was always put as an alternate even though I was better than most of the kids. We would always fight to just get on that team as a seven, eight year old. I think that really prepped me for what I was going to go through in life.

I played on the high school boys' team because my high school didn't have a girls' team. I really didn't get on the major junior golf stage until I was about a junior in high school.

USC was actually the last phone call I got on July 1st. I didn't even know (audio cut out.) Play at USC. My mom had sleepless nice because I wouldn't call the coach back. I almost let it slip away because I was too scared.

For some reason, my parents knew that this was something that I was meant to do, and so I received a scholarship from USC. After I graduated my dad and I hopped in his truck that he still has today and started playing on the Symetra Tour. He worked as my caddie. It was tough.

Looking back at that, I realize that that was the path I was always meant to be on. Now being on this stage and being on the LPGA, I cherish all the little things. I want the journey for the next girl to be better than mine.

THE MODERATOR: Roberta, you talked about how Lizette's story inspired you before you were associated with the LPGA and how important it was when you spoke with Ogilvy Worldwide and really were developing DriveOn.

What does it mean to you now to see this spot and see Lizette's story come to life for so many?

ROBERTA BOWMAN: It's a beautiful moment. The privilege I have working with the LPGA is Lizette is a extraordinary. Every one of our athletes has their own story and journey and their own hardships they have over overcome.

What we want to do through DriveOn is to introduce those athletes and stories to the rest of the world. Lizette said it well: professional sports gives you an extraordinary platform and spotlight. At a time when I think young girls in particular need role models, I think we've got 144 teeing it up every week.

So it's been just such a privilege to just begin the series. I have to say, we are going to profile the other golfers that were in that DriveOn film. They were all selected and cast because of their backstory, so I think you will all get a measure of the richness and the character and the dedication that it takes to be an elite golfer at the highest level.

But more importantly, you'll get a window into their character and leadership. I think you'll be as proud of them as I am.

THE MODERATOR: I want it open it up. We want to have a conversation today as we talk about Lizette's story. As you watch that and you were talking about the emotion in your voice and standing on that stage, what that meant at that time, when you now look and see yourself as one of the representatives of the LPGA and your story really represents what it means to be on the LPGA, what do you think that young girl who was standing on that stage would've thought about this moment today?

LIZETTE SALAS: I would say that the journey and the struggle was all worth it in the end. I remember as a little girl wanting to quit and just to be normal, and later down the line I realized that this is my normal. This is what I was meant to do. The drive that my parents had to have a better life for their family I think really resonated with me and my siblings.

We took this journey as a family. Golf is an individual sport, but really they are my backbone. They drive me to practice, drive me to everywhere, clinics, lessons, everything. They are the reason I'm up here. I mean, I could talk so much about them and how I'm so thankful.

If I were to tell myself, it's going to be hard but worth it in the end sharing your journey so you can DriveOn for the next girl.

THE MODERATOR: When we were in Phoenix we had a nice panel and you were part of it, and so was Nancy Lopez, who has long been a mentor of yours. You've talked about Lorena and Nancy, what they've meant to you.

Now you are that face that young girls can look at and see and see themselves in. What does that mean to you to know that a young girl might watch that, whether she's a golfer or not, and be inspired by your story?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, that means a lot. You know, ANA Inspiration and Lorena paved the way for not only women, but just women of color, young Latina girls.

So I feel like now it's my turn to do that. I am now in a position and confident enough as a woman and a Latina woman to take on this role and to really just inspire girls that look like me. I know when I came out as a little girl I would watch the LPGA. I just wanted to watch a girl that looked like me, that was brown and curvy and confident, and I found that on this tour.

I feel like that's what this tour is about. We represent so much and there are so many stories that we can inspire women and young girls around the globe.

THE MODERATOR: Roberta, we've got a lot that people can take from DriveOn. We talked about it not just being for young girls, but everyone being inspired by those stories. What do you hope people take way from this message, from Lizette's piece?

ROBERTA BOWMAN: There is a popular saying that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. I think I would just say talent and drive are universal, and opportunity and visibility are not.

So this is our contribution. All we know are our players and members, but their stories transcend sports and transcend gender. I think they really are a shot in the arm.

At the end of the day, Kelly, I'll be very honest with you, we want more people to watch the LPGA. We want more people to support the LPGA. We have got great partners today and great sponsors. There is room for more.

The stronger and richer the LPGA gets, it translates into girls achieving their dreams. The ability to be part of the process for someone to achieve their dream is probably the most magical and fulfilling responsibility that we have. We get to see it every day.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, first off, Lizette, thank you again for being a part of this, for sharing your story. As we talked about, you are that face now that so many young girls can look to, whether they want to be a golfer or a singer or whatever dream they may have. We believe your story can help inspire them, and we're really excited to showcase that to the world and all the stories we're going to get to with DriveOn.

Thank you for being a part of it.

LIZETTE SALAS: Thank you, guys. (Applause.)

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