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May 21, 2019

Lizette Salas

Williamsburg, Virginia

THE MODERATOR: We're at Pure Silk presented by Visit Williamsburg. I am here with Rolex ranked No. 29 and 2014 champion, Lizette Salas.

Lizette, we are coming off a little bit of a break after the west coast swing. How was the break for you?

LIZETTE SALAS: It was good. Had a short flight home and just really assessed my game and what I needed to do to take it up a notch. Hasn't really been the strong start that I've been wanting, but it's a long year. I'm just excited to be back at a place where I've had some really good memories with an amazing sponsor that's been on my team since 2012 when I came out on tour.

A lot of confidence coming into this week. You know, we got the U.S. Open next week and a couple majors coming up, Solheim Cup is this year, so it's an exciting stretch.

I'm just excited to go back to work.

THE MODERATOR: Speaking of Solheim Cup, when you were out the a San Francisco you were able to take part in one of Team USA's Solheim Cup bonding experiences.


THE MODERATOR: How was that for you and what was it like to see some familiar faces but also some new ones?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, definitely saw some -- a lot of fresh new faces. It was just a way to really get to know the girls, to really see who bonds well with whom.

Just getting together and getting excited for the whole process and getting excited for Solheim Cup. We have four months left -- not that I'm counting or anything -- but it's really important to get that team bonding started.

So we didn't play any golf, which was really nice. Yeah, we're just really excited about it.

THE MODERATOR: I was going to say, how much of an advantage is that to have that little bit of experience with each other, not to even focusing on golf but going out and doing Segway tours or go-kart races?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, no, Juli emphasized from the getgo that we need to know each other off the golf course and on the golf course to really give ourselves that advantage.

She explained to us that we're not only playing for ourselves, we have to play for each other regardless if they're your partner or not. We have to know all 11 girls on the team, including the captains.

I think that bonding experience was really effective. Did some scavenger hunts. Yeah, it was really exciting.

THE MODERATOR: Also while we were on the west coast swing you were able to tell your story through our DriveOn campaign in L.A.


THE MODERATOR: Now, it's been a few weeks since then, but there has been a lot of reaction from your story and everything that has come forward with it. Have you been getting some reactions from fans or friends alike? What are some reactions?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, whenever you tell your story like that and really put yourself in a vulnerable state it's kind of scary. You don't know how other people are going to react to it. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me.

The whole point of DriveOn is to really inspire the next generation and to really show what we had to go through to get to this point. I think everyone is excited to hear more stories like that. There are 144 players out here. There has got to be some really fantastic stories.

So to be able to show my story and really thank the people that got me here was a really cool thing to do. Yeah, just this whole campaign is just amazing. I'm just grateful to be a part of it.

THE MODERATOR: Now we're starting off the summer swing at Pure Silk. You won this tournament five years ago this year.


THE MODERATOR: Do you think about that day and the emotions you had and just what happened after that?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. I'm still trying to figure out what happened that day and try to apply it to every other golf tournament. You know, everything just fell into place that week. I remember just being in the state of mind where nothing was throwing me off.

I remember going to the outlet mall the morning of the final round and getting a handbag. I still have that handbag to just remind me of that's what you did and you were so relaxed and so focused; ready to have fun and get it done.

I think I just need to apply that every week. Obviously every week is different and there is so much talent out here, but that week everything just fell together. Still just pretty bummed that my parents weren't there, but it was still a fantastic moment for me.

Yeah, I have the recording from my family watching it in the living room and everyone screaming. My mom said that my dad just kind of stepped away and got in his little corner and was and teary and emotional.

Really good memory. I hope I get to repeat that again.

THE MODERATOR: Does the handbag bring up those emotions? Is it here this week?

LIZETTE SALAS: No, I didn't bring it. No, it's in my closet. My mom wanted to use it and I told her the story and she's like, Yeah, never mind. I'm going to put it away.

THE MODERATOR: Have you been our on the course yet this year. Is there anything maybe different?

LIZETTE SALAS: Actually today is my first day here, but it's always in magnificent shape. Hopefully the weather will hold up this year. We've had some interesting weeks in previous years. But this course brings out the best conditions and it brings out the best fans, so I think the tour is just really excited to be here and to have Pure Silk step up and be the tournament sponsor. They do a magnificent job with their players and everything they do, so I have no doubt this is going to be a really extraordinary event.

THE MODERATOR: With Pure Silk coming on to Kingsmill and your history with Kingsmill, does that make this event a little more special to you?

LIZETTE SALAS: Of course, of course. To be a Pure Silk ambassador and hopefully be a winner of this tournament the first year out would be amazing. There is so many girls out here that are part of team Pure Silk, so we take that with great pride and do everything we can to portray that brand in a positive way.

They've stepped up quite a bit throughout the years. I don't think the tour would be where it is today if it wasn't for Pure Silk.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up to questions.

Q. Welcome back.

Q. You mention the vulnerability of putting yourself out there and telling your story. Did that make you hesitate at all to be part of DriveOn project, or having kind of put it out there at graduation when Pay Haden asked you to speak, did that make it easier in any way?
LIZETTE SALAS: I think initially it was hard for me to do that. Like I said, you don't know how people are going to portray, like it or not, but I felt like it was my thank you to my parents and my family for sacrificing from the start of my career till now.

I felt like it was my way of giving back to the sport. When I was asked to do the campaign in Singapore I didn't hesitate one bit. This is what the LPGA is about. This is -- we need to share more stories. I felt like we were just shown as just robots out here. We're more than just athletes.

We're daughters, we're moms, we're business owners. We're far more than just athletes. It's time that we're on a bigger platform and to really have our own voice.

Q. You mentioned 2014. Great memories you've had here. The last few tournaments here I guess you...
LIZETTE SALAS: (Laughter.) Yeah, we all know. I clearly know.

Q. I was trying to be diplomatic.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. Thank you though.

Q. Just your thoughts on that. Have you seen any reason why it hasn't gone as well?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. Obviously every year is different, and you would think that after eight years on tour I would kind of figure it out, like how to play well at a place where I've had success before.

I try not to think about it anymore. I remember I did make a few changes that probably weren't the best idea. You know, you learn from your mistakes. I still have that confidence that I can play well here, so I'm just going to stick to the game plan.

I have a new caddie this week. Going to be a fresh new start. I think it's exciting. I know my game is there and I've been saying all year I'm close, I'm close. Probably make a big step forward this week.

Q. You mentioned using the three-week break to reassess.

Q. You haven't had the fast start that maybe you anticipated. Did you anticipate coming off last year? You had two runner-ups, playoff at Indy. What conclusions did you reach in your assessment of your game?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, I did have an amazing year last year. I wanted to take it up a notch, and some reason just hasn't really clicked. I think that's the hard part of trying to top the previous year that you had. Sometimes when you don't reach that, that really puts you down in a negative mental state.

Think that's really what's been going on. We all tend to beat ourselves up mentally so easy. We're our toughest critics. I think just allowing myself to enjoy the moment and to really cherish what I've accomplished in my career so far. You know, I know the golf is there. I just have to go play.

I have looked at some stats and what I need to get better at. You know, I think we're on an upward trend. I have the best team in the world. They have all the confidence in me. It's just now up to me to go ahead and do it. It's easier said than done, but I think I just have to enjoy the process, even though it gets difficult sometimes.

Q. You sort of touched on this a little bit, but seemed like by the numbers anyway that in your last four events before this break that you were playing a little better.

Q. Did you feel that way as well?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, definitely. We've gotten some top 20 finishes. Those get me some Solheim Cup points, so I'm not at all mad about that. It's always just the little things that really can get to you from a top 15 to a top 10 finish or even a Top 5.

But I think it all comes down to how you view things and yourself. I know I'm a top player and I can win again. It's just a matter of everything falling into place. It takes skill, luck; it takes a lot of things.

My college coach always says it's always one shot at a time. Always trying to focus on the shot I have in front of me and to just control what I can and just let go of everything else.

Q. You mentioned the caddie switch. How did it come about? Who is the new person?
LIZETTE SALAS: It's only temporary. So Mo Martin is injured, so I've known Craig for a long time and asked him to hop on my bag for a few weeks and give my previous caddie a little extra time at home.

So, yeah, no, it's been good. I feel really good about it he's really experienced and we're friends on and off the golf course. I think that's what you need out here. You need a friend; you need to have someone that you know has your back.

So I'm really excited about it.

Q. What was your reaction when Pat Haden asked to you speak at graduation?
LIZETTE SALAS: I thought he was joking. I'm like, Really? Me? A golfer? Well, golf is now a big sport at USC, but you think you're going to be listening to a football player or a water polo player. To ask a female golfer, I thought it was a joke.

He was dead on serious, and he just thought that's what USC exemplified. I thought so too. There is this perception that they're a university of spoiled children.

It's clearly not if you hear my story of where I came from. So I felt like it was also my thank you to the university for changing my life and giving my an opportunity that is priceless.

Q. Take me through the day. Was graduation on campus? Outside?
LIZETTE SALAS: So it was an athlete (sound interruption.)...Nervous, and you can hear on the video my voice is different. It's like a higher pitch because I was trying to not cry the entire time.

I remember just moving the tassel out of my face. But the good thing is it was dark. All the lights are on you, which is great, because I couldn't see who was looking.

But at the end of my speech I could hear people going (sniffling) People were crying with me, which was really, really fantastic, so heart warming.

To have any entire family -- felt like my family held up half the audience. It was a fantastic feeling. To have my teammates there supporting me and my coach there, it's something I will never forget. Yeah, that's probably one of the highlights of my life, just to be able to do that for my university and for my family.

Yeah, that was pretty cool.

Q. Guessing you have the video stashed away somewhere.
LIZETTE SALAS: It's on YouTube. Yeah, I think that's where the DriveOn campaign got their footage from. Just to be able to incorporate my university and my alma mater into where I am today is just an incredible feeling. You know, it takes a village to take someone from -- a seven-year-old girl to now being an LPGA player.

So I just like taking people on my journey with me and thanking them every step of the way. I'm just pretty lucky.

Q. Ever consider where you might have landed had it not been for golf?
LIZETTE SALAS: I have no idea. No idea. I knew from a young age that I wanted to do this. I would probably be a teacher somewhere. I majored in sociology, so I figure something in social work, something like that.

I think I got a pretty good job now. (Laughter.)

Q. With the U.S. Open right around the corner, does that affect any of your approach this week?
LIZETTE SALAS: No, not at all. Every tournament is different. Obviously U.S. Open is a big event, national championship, we all want to perform well.

I feel like this week would be a great test to what next week will demand. My game plan doesn't change. My goal is to just play the best golf that I can. We have so many great competitors, and I think everyone has a chance to win.

Yeah, next week will bring its own challenges, and this week I think everyone is just excited to be back. There is just this really exciting vibe going on, and next week is so intense and everyone brings their entire team with them.

So I feel like this week is just -- I mean, it is intense as always, but there is just also this just excitement and relief that we're back.

Q. With this tournament looking for a title sponsor for so long, what do you think it means that they finally landed one?
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, they landed a great one with Pure Silk. Yeah, this venue in general brings one of the best fans out on tour. It was a shame that we couldn't find a title sponsor to really commit and take it up a notch.

But to have a sponsor like Pure Silk that brings 110% every day and takes so much time to prepare for this event and really understands what it takes to make a great event...

So when they came on board I just knew it was going to be an extraordinary event from start to finish. They don't do anything that's not 100%. I was going to say something else. That's not 100%. (Laughter.) Half and then there is another word after that.

So to be a part of their team is an honor. I know other players feel the same way. Even if they're not on team Pure Silk, they know what they're brand means to the LPGA. I was really excited when they came on board.

THE MODERATOR: One more in the front.

Q. This is a little off the track. I'm wondering, have you found in I way to enhance your game through your passion pursuit of Latin dance?
LIZETTE SALAS: (Laughter.) Oh, my god. Of Latin dance, huh?

Q. Does it help you out?
LIZETTE SALAS: It does. I mean, I haven't danced in a long time. I feel like the older I get the weaker my ankles are.

It's always just been a way to get away from the stress of golf. I was always that little girl that would dance by herself at family parties. I don't know why.

But I took ballroom dance in college. It's always just been something that I love to do. Yeah, I need to get back into it.

Q. Maybe it's your good luck idea.

Q. Tell me, is it fair for me in my resolution of what you've said today is basically your biggest success comes from just staying in the moment and being focused rather than strategy?
LIZETTE SALAS: Pretty much, yeah. And also when I play my best is when I stick to my own game plan. I mean, it's easy for us to start comparing each other and, oh, like look at her swing. Maybe I should start doing that. But you know what's best for you and your team knows what's best for you and they know you like the back of their hand.

All I have to do is really just trust in myself and know what works for me is going work for me and nobody else. So, yeah, I think I can speak for everyone that we're our toughest critic and we are our worst enemy at times mentally.

So it's a hard game to try to perfect, and we're always learning. That's why we got a team to keep us in check.

THE MODERATOR: All right, I think that's going to be it for us today. Thank you Lizette for coming in.


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