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June 26, 2021

Lizette Salas

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta Athletic Club

Quick Quotes

Q. Here with Lizette Salas, another round of 67. You seem to like that number. You started off hot with seven birdies over your first nine holes. I'm going to ask you to go through them if you don't mind, but first I'll let you think about that. Overall what are your takeaways from today?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, I mean, I'm really proud of myself for how I started and how I maintained that confidence throughout the round even though putts weren't dropping. I was committed to each shot, and I knew -- I wasn't uncomfortable, which I haven't said that in a very long time.

I was embracing it. I was greeting some fans and just enjoying the moment. It's been a while since I've done that.

Yeah, I got off to a really hot start, and I didn't realize I shot 30 until I signed my scorecard. Obviously it's fun when you play like that. I think it's good momentum going into tomorrow.

Q. You had that putter going hot. That putter was working for you earlier. Take us through holes 1, 2 and 3, what you did there.

LIZETTE SALAS: Well, 1, we hit a 7-wood into No. 1. I hit a really good shot, and we had a testy left to right slider, made it.

Q. About how long was that?

LIZETTE SALAS: It was about 35, 40 feet. It's a great start to the day.

Then the next hole, par-5, hit it to about four feet above the hole, made that.

Third, hit a hybrid to about 30 feet up the hill, made that.

I hit a really good shot on 4, as well. Had a good look at birdie.

5, I also made birdie. Hit a good wedge. Had the same number I did on 5 that I did on 2, so I was really confident with that. Made a good solid three-, four-footer.

Then I think the shot of the day, though, was my bunker shot on 6. Yeah, I gave myself props for that one, and I think my swing coach would be really proud of me for that. We've been working on my bunker play.

7, another downhill slider. I actually thought I hit it a little too hard, but it was in, made it.

And then on 8, hit a really good hybrid to about 12 or 15 feet, pretty straight, slightly left to right, and made that.

Yeah, I mean, I could have made it on nine, with my first bogey on 10. I think I just played really steady, even though I missed a short one -- not a short one, but a good look on 12, but you know what, it's a major. You can't make all of them.

Q. You made that first bogey and then parred in. Were you able to put that behind you?

LIZETTE SALAS: No, definitely. When I made that bogey, I just said, it's okay. There's lots of golf left.

I think before I would have chewed myself up in my head and said a lot of negative things, but there's 27 holes left, 26. Lots of golf, and anything can happen.

Q. You look happier than you have in quite some time.


Q. I'm wondering if unloading the secret that you've been carrying, did you realize how heavy it was, and is it a relief?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, definitely. I think when I came -- when I finally unloaded the weight I was carrying to my team, first of all, I think that was a big turning point, and I think being okay to be vulnerable and ask for help, I think that -- having that in my mind has been super helpful, and I think saying it this week was the right time to talk about it.

Yeah, I just -- I don't know, yeah, you're right, I am really happy, and I think I'm just embracing and taking everything in. Yeah, I'm just really fortunate.

Q. Fan engagement has been really solid and on your side. Have you sort of sensed that all these people are rooting for you beyond the golf course?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, and it's a beautiful thing to hear my name that much. Before I would hear my name and it would almost bother me. Last year during COVID -- not during COVID, but the last few months I would just say, like -- I didn't like it, and now it's like, you know what, I actually like the sound of it, and I'm having fun.

The fans want to show. The fans want to have a good time, so why not -- it was kind of slow on the back, so why not just engage a little bit, and that's what this Tour is all about is we're accessible. I'm pretty accessible, so I was just having fun out there.

Q. One thing we saw a bunch of times today is Nelly hitting very far off the tee and then you get to hit the approach first and you hit one really close and kind of put the pressure on her. Tomorrow it's going to be a duel in some sense, and I wonder if there's some kind of small advantage of hitting that approach shot first where you really have the initiative. Is that something that ever enters your brain?

LIZETTE SALAS: Well, knowing that I'm not the longest hitter, I think I'm used to that. I think I'm just so comfortable in saying, you know what, I'm going to hit first, and knowing my game.

I'm not thinking about it as a match play setting. I'm more of let's just play boring golf and let's give ourselves good looks at birdie. My hybrid game is pretty good at the moment, and you could look at it that way, that I am applying pressure or something like that, but I'm just sticking to my game plan and what I'm comfortable with, and yeah, it's been resulting quite well.

Q. What's your routine like tonight?

LIZETTE SALAS: I'm actually not sure. I have a few -- my assistant coach from college is here, so we're probably going to go somewhere to some outdoor dining and just relax, and I'll probably shut off my phone later tonight, talk to the family, and yeah, I think it will just be a relaxing day with my team.

Q. How important is your talk between you and your caddie over the shots when you and Nelly are both making birdies and it does kind of feel a little bit like match play?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, can you repeat your question?

Q. How important are the talks between you and your caddie so you're sticking with your game plan and not being too pin seeking?

LIZETTE SALAS: Right. A good example of that was 12, that reachable par-5, and Nelly obviously hits it a long way, and she had -- I think she had an iron in, and I had the number to the front of the green, and I just said, "I'm not comfortable with this." I think John, knowing my game and knowing if I say no it's a no, then we can analyze and say, you know what, I'm pretty good with my wedges, let's focus on that, and he's been doing a great job of knowing when to step in and when to say, commit to your shot and go for it.

Q. How are you able to compete so well whenever you don't hit the ball as far as maybe say a player like Nelly Korda?

LIZETTE SALAS: I can putt. Just get me on the green and we can work from there. That's pretty much the game plan. I think I'm really comfortable with my fairway woods and my hybrids.

I think I have a rep of not being the longest player, and instead of being a burden or it being something annoying, I just say, well, I'll just meet you on the green. I think I had a good taste of that when I played Anne van Dam two years ago at the Solheim. She's the longest hitter on Tour, and I just said, I'll meet you up there and we can battle from there. I'm not at all intimidated by length, I just know I can compete out here.

Q. When you hit a shot like you did on 6 out of the bunker and it's just as you imagined it, is that what is in its purest form is the fun in golf for you, when you just do exactly what's in your mind's eye?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, it's quite -- what's the word? It's great. I don't know. You just get this like tingle in your stomach when you pull off a shot that you've been working on for so long and you just have it perfectly pictured in your mind and somehow your body just knows what to do. Yeah, that was the best shot of the day today, I think. Just knowing that I could pull that off just gives me that momentum to be aggressive.

Even when I hit it in the bunker, I said, all right, that's cool, like I'm okay with being in bunkers, and before I was like, do not put me in a bunker. But now I accept the challenge, and I know I'm capable of recovering.

Q. What did you not like about hearing your name last year? Was it almost like you felt like you had to perform well for these people that were rooting for you?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, it was just a combo of things. Like I said early in the week, I just didn't like myself. I didn't like who I was, and having people -- even though it's extremely great to have fans cheering for you, I was just not in the right mind. I almost put more pressure on myself to perform, and it was just kind of a downward spiral. We're doing the opposite this week.

Q. When did you first open up to your team?

LIZETTE SALAS: I opened up probably February. It was a little bit last year, as well, like when I moved to Dallas, but I was almost running away from everything instead of being accountable for what was going on and really just kind of being raw and coming forward to them. It was probably after I missed my first two cuts this year. That was probably the lowest point.

Yeah, we missed the cut in ANA, but I think after that, there was a lot more positive vibes coming from that.

Q. Without asking for names, have any players come up to you since you've opened up earlier this week, and did they feel the same or they can relate?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, even prior to this week. I think I had talked a little bit about it in my Instagram, and I think the most surprising was Lexi, a powerful dominant player like her, and she said that she could relate, and so that was very comforting. Just knowing that other players go through tough times, yeah, it's all great on social media, but you just don't know what's going on behind the scenes, and it's refreshing to know that other people have struggled.

Q. After all you've been through over the last year, you're in this position now to potentially win your first major. How do you think everything that you've gone through has helped to get you now to this point?

LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, my dad says this phrase, "Everything has its moment."

I think I was meant to go through what I was going through. I think I've learned a lot. I think it brought me closer to my team. It brought me closer to who I really am. I think that just allows me to be myself on the golf course and to play the golf I know how to play.

You know, whatever happens tomorrow, I'm just proud of how much I've overcome so far, and so we're just going to take it one shot and continue smiling and being myself.

Q. Are your parents here this week?

LIZETTE SALAS: No, they're not here. They're at home, and my mom asked if she could fly out after Thursday, and I said, I think you're just better off at home. Not in a bad way, but I'm just saying, this is a tough walk.

Q. Do you want them to come now?

LIZETTE SALAS: I mean, sure. It would be great if they can get a nice little red eye to Atlanta. Regardless if they're here or not, they're watching it on TV. My sister is nine years older, and she's like, it's still so surreal to watch you on TV. My family is the best, and I just know that they're pulling for me tomorrow.

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