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June 24, 2021

Lizette Salas

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta Athletic Club

Quick Quotes

Q. We're here with Lizette Salas, our clubhouse leader, with a 5-under 67, a nice bogey-free day. You made it look easy out there. What are your thoughts as you look back on your round?

LIZETTE SALAS: It was definitely not easy. We started with pretty wet conditions this morning, but the greens are rolling extremely pure. I had a really good warmup. I was really confident coming into this week, and I think my game really suits this golf course and kept it boring.

That's pretty much the game plan. Fairways and greens and rolled in a few good putts, left to righters, sliders, which I think really gets my confidence going, and I continue that momentum throughout the round.

A little scary slide on the last hole to keep it bogey-free, but I'm really pleased with my round today.

Q. What about this course do you think fits your game?

LIZETTE SALAS: I think right now I'm so visual, and I'm really confident in my pre-shot routine and knowing my ball flight and how to capitalize on these holes. So staying committed to each shot, and even when it's not as pure as I want it to, I'm missing in the right spots, and I'm able to get up and down for par.

Q. Your game has been trending in a good direction these last few weeks. What's working well? What's shifting?

LIZETTE SALAS: Well, at the beginning of this year, we started with a goal with a plan, and sometimes that plan kind of gets worse before it gets better, and probably right before Pure Silk, I really analyzed my game and really talked with my coach and my trainer and what we really need to do because we're running out of events, and that Solheim Cup is right around the corner.

So I know these courses are tough, and I'm still -- I believe that I could play well in these big events and contend, and I think that's more so the shift in everything is that self-confidence, and I'm not afraid to be out here anymore. It's fun. It's -- John's been doing a great job. He was on my bag in 2013/2014, and just really enjoying the process.

Even though some days aren't nice as others, you can always learn from it and bounce back.

Q. When were you afraid?

LIZETTE SALAS: When was I afraid? Probably all of 2020. That was a really tough year for me. It was probably one of the lowest points of my career mentally, but I am so lucky to have a strong backbone and team to tell me when I'm -- just to be there for me.

I think we're on an upward trend, and golf is a lot more fun right now. We're just looking forward to that Solheim Cup in a few months.

I think that's what really got the fire in me in saying I need to be on that team, I want to be on that team. So that's kind of the game plan right now.

Q. We heard you mention the Solheim Cup already a couple times. Even though we're here at a major championship, is the Solheim Cup a bigger focus for you this week?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yes and no. The Solheim Cup is always a goal, the big time goal. But in order to achieve that, you have to play well in majors. I think I started off on a good note today just know that the goal is there, but at the same time there's little goals you have to achieve to get there. I think we're right on course.

As long as I continue doing my process and believing in myself, it's in reach.

Q. What do you think it is that you bring to the Solheim Cup team?

LIZETTE SALAS: It would be my fifth consecutive. I could bring a lot of experience. I think I'm a solid team player. I could get along with just about everybody, and I could play with just about everybody.

I think and I hope Captain Hurst knows that. We've been on the same team now for three Solheim Cups now, so I think she does. But at the same time, there's a lot of other American players that are playing solid, and maybe her tactic isn't the same as Captain Juli Inkster.

I can only control what I can, which is my process and my self-talk.

Q. Perhaps this is an obvious question, but what made 2020 so difficult for you? Was it the pandemic? Was it the stopping and restarting? Was there something else going on?

LIZETTE SALAS: To not get in a lot of detail, it was a combination of things. I really didn't like myself in 2020, and I think with the whole COVID and not being able to work and have golf as my outlet, that really hit hard.

As much as I love my family and loved being around them, it was tough. I homeschooled my nephew for about two months and I said, No more, please. But I understand that everyone had to go through something, and it was hard for me to even speak about it just because I felt like other people are going through the same thing. Why do I need to feel sorry for myself. Over time, it accumulated and got worse, and when I finally got out here, it was just -- it was kind of -- it was so bad that the golf couldn't help.

But we've turned over a new leaf, and we're just happy to be -- I'm happy where I am right now, and I'm looking forward to the next few days.

Q. What grade was your nephew?

LIZETTE SALAS: He is in second grade.

Q. And was it a matter of you see yourself as a golfer, so then when golf was taken away you didn't know who you were during the time off?

LIZETTE SALAS: A little bit like that. It was, yeah, I guess the identity of me being a pro golfer and not really living that lifestyle, but it was accumulation of a lot of other things. I had to rely on some people, and they were there for me.

You know, it takes time. I had to take care of my mental health, and that's something that a lot of people don't really take into consideration. I think for me coming from a Hispanic background, it's very hard to talk about that, but I'm very fortunate to have a team that was willing to bend over backwards to help me and to get me to where I am right now.

Q. You spoke about your process. Where are you in that process of loving Lizette again? How do you feel now?

LIZETTE SALAS: I feel great. I feel more like myself. Like I said earlier, I'm not really intimidated by anything anymore. I'm enjoying the process. I think before, it was kind of -- it felt like work, and it never did. I'm better at communicating how I'm feeling, which is very hard. Even a 31-year-old veteran out here, it's hard for me to communicate what I'm feeling. Sometimes my team has to get it out of me, and I'm just allowing myself to be in that vulnerable place and asking for help.

And just smiling a lot more, and my family's always been there for me, and I have a great team. It's been a big team effort.

Q. A lot of people, when they go through these mental health crises, it can be kind of unpredictable when the clouds lift or why sometimes. Do you have a moment you can think of where you started to see a little daylight, or is it a gradual thing? I'm curious if there's a moment you can pinpoint.

LIZETTE SALAS: I think probably Pure Silk was the light. I started seeing a little bit more light. It actually was getting darker before it got lighter, and just being in that at Kingsmill, I had a lot of good memories. John was back on the bag again. I had a new putter and new toys, and I was playing the golf I know how. That really just lit a spark in me.

You know, I started reading books because I had a hard time falling to sleep, and to put the phone away really just slowed everything down and I was able decompress and let go of whatever was going on up in my brain. I was finally able to relax and play the golf I know how.

Q. As you look back on that, even though you didn't feel strong at the time, do you see a peek of strength to get back to the lowest moments to kind of be where you are now?

LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, yeah, definitely. My parents have always been very confident and very supportive, and my team as well. I think I have a really cocky team, which is really helpful. I also learned when I can ask for help and when is it okay to be vulnerable and uncomfortable. I just understand myself more, and I'm at a point where I like myself again, even when days aren't as good as others. It's been a quite a roller coaster of emotions.

Here I am, and I'm playing much better. Just happy to be here.

Q. One of my really dumb questions, but since I don't have your results in front of me, I'm just curious. When was your last interview?

LIZETTE SALAS: It's been -- I don't know, Vegas.

Q. We would have talked to you last week. You played well last week.

LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, yeah, last week, the week before, the week before that.

Q. Yesterday.

LIZETTE SALAS: Yesterday. Why, am I bad right now?

Q. No, you got your spark back.

LIZETTE SALAS: It's like am I not answering these questions well?

Q. Two things came to mind. Much earlier in this interview when you mentioned a change in plan for the year, were you talking about more your wholeness or was there actually a golf swing thing you were looking to change?

LIZETTE SALAS: I think a little bit of both. I think my coach, we're working on a lot of posture, a lot of fundamentals, which are allowing me to maximize my strength and to finally get some distance.

I got a new putter maybe two months ago and it's really just -- I don't want to jinx it, but it made the hole a little bit bigger.

Q. A new toy.

LIZETTE SALAS: Which is nice. Yeah, a new toy. And just trusting in my team. That's really been a whole -- not challenge, but the whole goal is to trust and believe in myself and to know that there's still a lot of good golf that I can play.

Q. One other thing that made me think. When you guys got back to golf, was your expectation of how it would be, did you have kind of relief that we're back to golf, and was it disappointing that it wasn't what you thought it would be?

LIZETTE SALAS: There was a lot of emotions. There was excitement. There was anxiety. There was disappointment.

Q. Which emotion were you anticipating before you got there?

LIZETTE SALAS: I think I had a lot of anxiety before I got out there. I thought the anxiety was more nerves, but by the time we went back out there I was just not in the right mindset. I felt like I was trying to play catch-up. Things in L.A. were really bad.

I wasn't able to play for a long time, and then when I saw that I wasn't getting the results I wanted, it ate me up. It was really bad. But also I wouldn't ask for help. I was very stubborn. Instead of asking, I pretty much shut people out. That was not the right way to do it, and I acknowledge that. I'm a different person now, and I think my team is proud of me, and I hope I can just continue this positive process.

Q. You mentioned the cloud lifting at Pure Silk, but was that the turning point also, or was there a previous turning point?

LIZETTE SALAS: I think that was the turning point. Just stepping into that event and a lot of positivity going into that.

Q. Vulnerability as a strength, every time someone like you comes out and says, talks about it, do you think it make it easier? Are you able to talk about this because Matthew Wolff has talked about it, and Naomi has talked about it and Michael Phelps has talked about it?

LIZETTE SALAS: I wanted to talk about this in the beginning of the year, but I wasn't ready. I wasn't -- I wanted to share this -- my story and my process when I was confident enough to share. I guess now is the time to talk about it, and that's okay.

Everyone has their own timeline of sharing what they've gone through. And I'm not going to lie. I'm a little nervous even talking about it now, but it's okay. And I'm in a much better place. Just happy to be here.

Q. When you talk about your team, who is that? Who all do you consider your team? Did a move to Texas -- I understand you have a place in Texas now. Did that help?

LIZETTE SALAS: So that was another part of trying to get myself back to where I wanted to be, and I was trying a new team out in Dallas and it kind of backfired. So I went back to my team in L.A. My Coach Jim Worley, my trainer Josh Loyo, and J.S. with Epic Sports.

We've all been in communication a lot more than previous years because I needed that. They check me when I need to be checked, and vice versa. So it's been, I think, opening up to them and allowing them to understand what I was going through on a more personal level rather than just golf, I think it really allowed all of us to just be more in sync and to now really brain storm what I need from them even possibly outside the golf course.

They've stepped it up. They're used to me in tears a few times, but that's what being a team is all about, and I consider them family.

Q. How good does it feel to be your own self after all again this process, to not have filters? Is it the old Lizette or is it a new Lizette or a combination of both?

LIZETTE SALAS: You know, I think it's a combination. I think it's a new Lizette with a new appreciation for the people around me. It's been a rocky road, but I'm finally seeing the results that I want. My team -- again, my team is very happy for me, and also my family too. It's been hard for them too, and sometimes they don't even know what to say. It's been hard for everybody.

We've come together. As we say at USC, we're fighting on.

Q. What book do you read? You said you were reading books now.

LIZETTE SALAS: I was like I don't read books.

Q. You said you were reading books now.

LIZETTE SALAS: I started reading this book called I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. I started reading that, and I thought it was a biography of myself. I started reading -- there's this Frida Kalo book that talks about how her mentality can go into like modern day issues about loving yourself, self-confidence.

And when you look back at her history, she did things her way and enjoyed her own process. So I've just been highlighting a few things here and there. It really just -- and it puts me to sleep. It's a win-win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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