Lewis, Lincicome, Salas, Thompson and Joh to Serve in 2014
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, March 19, 2014 – The LPGA announced today that Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Lizette Salas, Lexi Thompson and Tiffany Joh have been named National Ambassadors for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf. In this capacity, they will help communicate the benefits of the Girls Golf program, whose mission is to improve the lives of girls and women through the game of golf.
Through this program young girls learn more than just the game of golf, they experience the 5 E’s of Girls Golf; our site directors, instructors and volunteers are there to Empower, Enrich, Engage, Exercise and Energize the girls through activities that will teach the girls not only how to play the game, but to become confident individuals.
“Each one of our National Ambassadors represents one of the 5 E’s of Girls Golf,” commented Nancy Hen- derson, president of the LPGA Foundation. “We are so fortunate to have the support of some of the LPGA’s brightest stars, and we’re absolutely thrilled to have them onboard as our National Ambassadors.”
Newly named National Ambassadors for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Stacy Lewis, Lizette Salas, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson and Tiffany Joh are joined onstage by Nancy Lopez and Nancy Henderson, President of the LPGA Foundation and their fans.
“I am thrilled to have been chosen to serve as a National Ambassador for the Girls Golf program,” said Lincicome. “As a former member, I can relate to the girls and know how daunting the game can seem when you first begin. I look forward to interacting with the girls in person this year at LPGA Tour events and connecting with them through social media.”
The announcement comes as the LPGA begins its domestic schedule this week at the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix. The event recognizes the past and present of the LPGA and pays it forward for the future of women’s golf with $500,000 from this event going to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.
$300,000 of that donation to Girls Golf comes from RR Donnelley who con- tinues to help shape the future of the women’s game.
2013 RR Donnelley Founders Cup champion, Stacy Lewis, showed her com- mitment to the future by donating $50,000 of her winner’s check to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.
The only initiative of its kind, Girls Golf is administered through a partner- ship between The LPGA Foundation and the USGA. Girls Golf has grown to over 280 sites across the United States with over 40,000 girls, ages 7-17, expected to participate in 2014.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for coming here.
First of all, what I'd like to say is we are not only here to introduce our 2014 Girls Golf ambassadors.
We are also here to celebrate a very monumental accomplishment for Girls Golf and I have to say that we are here today also to celebrate our 30,000th Girls Golf member, and those of you out there might be wondering, why is that so significant. That's significant because in 2010 pre‑LPGA Founders Cup, pre‑RR Donnelley supporting Girls Golf, we had 5,000 girls involved in our program.
So we have grown over three years from 5,000 girls to 30,000 girls, and by the end of 2014, thanks to the support once again of RR Donnelley who is contributing to our Girls Golf Program once again and the half a million dollars that will come from this event, we will be at 40,000 girls involved in our Girls Golf Program. So we are truly committed to growing the game for girls.
So with that, I'm going to bring up the girl who was lucky enough to actually be the 30,000th girl. I mean, how cool is that? She comes all the way from West Palm Beach, Florida. So give a big round of applause for Vristi Patel.
Pretty cool being here isn't? So how old are you?
VRISTI PATEL: Nine.
THE MODERATOR: And when did you start playing golf?
VRISTI PATEL: Since last summer, 2013.
THE MODERATOR: So you've been playing a long time?
VRISTI PATEL: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: That's good. So I heard you had a really good golf swing; is that true?
VRISTI PATEL: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: So what do you like best about Girls Golf?
VRISTI PATEL: I like to be on the course and play with my fellow golf friends.
THE MODERATOR: It's pretty fun to be with the other girls?
VRISTI PATEL: Mm‑hmm.
THE MODERATOR: And you like being on the course so you like playing golf. I think today you're going to go out on the course and watch one of your favorite players; is that true?
VRISTI PATEL: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Who are you going to get to watch.
VRISTI PATEL: Lexi.
THE MODERATOR: Well we really appreciate you being here and I'm sure we'll talk to you later but why don't you sit down and join the other girls. Thanks, Vristi.
All right. With that, we are going to introduce our 2014 Girls Golf ambassadors. For those of you not familiar with the LPGA USGA Girls Golf we have an incredible partner in the USGA and they are just as committed to growing the game of golf for girls and have our partner in this organization for a really long time and I'd like to introduce Beth Major from the USGA who is here today. Thank you, Beth, for your support.
First and foremost, Girls Golf teaches girls the game of golf, and we also through golf teach girls leadership and life skills that will prepare them not only for the game of golf but for the game of golf. We do that through our five E's, so what we have done each year is each one of our ambassador represents one of our five E's.
So our first ambassador who is our 'Empower' girl is actually one of the most powerful women on Tour, not only is she one of the longest hitters, but she also is very powerful in building her brand and that would be Girls Golf alumni, Brittany Lincicome.
Our next ambassador who is one of the most athletic golfers on Tour, and those of you that think golfers don't have to be athletes, well, tell that to our 'Exercise' girl, Lexi Thompson. Lexi, come on up.
Next, 'Engage'. One of the most engaging players on the LPGA Tour, both on the course and off the course, engaging her fans through social media, Tiffany Joh.
Next, 'Energize'. When you see this player both on the course and off, you can see and feel the energy that she has when she plays the game, Lizette Salas.
Last but certainly not least, a player who has enriched the lives of so much girls. She did it last year on the 18th green by donating $15,000 of her first place winnings, a little girl who makes little girls believe that anything is possible, our 'Enrich' girl, Stacy Lewis.
Well, I don't know about you all out there but I can't think of five better role models for our 30,000 Girls Golf members. I'm so proud that when we asked them, every single one of them did not hesitate. They said, yes, they are would be happy to be our ambassadors.
Speaking of role models, I have to recognize my role model. You know, girls, when you are growing up, you're looking at these players. When I was growing up, my role model, well, she was kind of as close to wonder woman as it gets. She was pretty amazing. She won 48 times on Tour, finished second almost that many times. She made me want to play on the LPGA Tour just like these girls make you want to play on the LPGA Tour, right? In the back of the room, our LPGA Foundation board member, LPGA World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez is in the back.
Nancy, thank you for your support of Girls Golf, not only on foundation board but for what you do with our academy and your company donating equipment to Girls Golf. It's amazing.
Speaking of Nancy; Lizette, I guess I'll start with you. So how does it feel; you're a role model, as I said to these young girls, but I know that Nancy Lopez has been a role model and a mentor for you. What does it mean to have someone like Nancy in your corner and how do you feel to be maybe that inspiration for these girls down here?
LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, man, are you trying to make me cry? No, I mean, to have a Hall of Famer, such a wonderful human being and almost a mom figure to me in the world of golf is amazing, and she's been my hero since I picked up the club. And we have a lot of similarities through our stories and our relationship with our dads, and the last two years we have gotten so close.
I got my dream came true when I got to play with her in November in Florida and just to have that support from her has made me cherish every moment I'm out on the golf course -- and yeah, I'm getting choked up already.
But to have her on my team, and I'm sure she's not only my role model but everyone else's role model here in the world of golf, just by looking at her, she brings a smile to all of our faces, and the way she just goes about herself and appreciates every fan and just loves this game so passionately, it just encourages us to pursue and inspire other kids.
THE MODERATOR: Any advice you can give to the girls about how they can enjoy the game and have that energy and love of the game that you and Nancy clearly have?
LIZETTE SALAS: I would just say smile as much as you can. I know it's a little too simple, but it goes a long ways, and Nancy always tell me that, just to smile and to have fun. I know, I hope you guys want to become an LPGA player and every one of you has the ability to do so.
So just keep practicing, and no matter what anyone says, you guys can accomplish your dreams just like we did.
Yeah, it's not going to be easy at times but it's the support and love from the people around you that make a big difference.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go down the line. What's great about Tiffany, is Girls Golf teaches girls to be confident and to find their own voice and Tiffany is one of the players out on Tour who is very herself and unique.
What would you say to these girls about maybe finding their own voice and confidence to be themselves and not to conform to what other people think they should be?
TIFFANY JOH: I think just being a young female athlete is extremely empowering and does wonders for your confidence. Believe it or not, before I started playing golf, I was extremely shy -- I know -- but as I got more involved with golf and playing with other girls my age, I like slowly and steadily came out of my shell and now people are trying to coax me back into my shell and it's not working.
I think just being a young female athlete, it just does wonders for your confidence. I think the first step is being involved in a program like this.
THE MODERATOR: So growing up, did you have a lot of girls that you could play with?
TIFFANY JOH: Yeah, I grew up in San Diego, so we had a pretty good junior golf program there. But, I mean, it was really difficult for me at first to make friends and then start talking to other girls, but look at me now, I can't be quiet.
THE MODERATOR: That's one of the best things about golf is it does instill confidence and hopefully these girls can just get a little bit of what you got out of golf.
For every ten juniors that take up the game, eight of them are boys and two are little girls, and one little girl like these girls up here stays to beat the boys and another girl who isn't as confident tends to run‑off and go in a different direction.
So what Girls Golf does is put those two together and those turn into four and those four turn into eight and those eight turn into the 30,000 we have today. So thank you for representing Girls Golf.
So Brittany, you're actually a Girls Golf member. You had a Girls Golf Program in your area where you grew up. What did you enjoy about it and what makes you want to share that message with these girls?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I think it was just great to get together with a group of girls. A lot of females don't think that golf is so much the cool thing to do. But just to get all the girls together and to put it into a fun setting, and I remember like the summer camps, they were like the highlight of my year. I couldn't wait for the summer camps to roll around and to go hang out with other girls my age and to go do something that I love to do.
So to all these girls; to have 30,000 girls involved in the Girls Golf Program, it gives me cold chills when I heard that last night at the meeting. It's pretty incredible to see how far it's come since, gosh, when I was little; that was a few years ago.
But yes, it's incredible. These girls, you all have amazing talent and please just stick with it. Don't led anybody tell you -- I had to play on the boys golf team growing up and you guys might have to do the same -- we are getting more girls but there still is not enough to fill high school golf teams. Just go out and kick the boys' booties, and enjoy doing it, because I know I did.
THE MODERATOR: Well, you are 'Empower' girl, and one of the things that I love about you is you certainly have that go‑for‑it mentality. There's no holding back; if it's a par 5 you can reach in two, you're going to go for it. What would you say to these girls about going for their dreams?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Never give up. You know, you're so young now and you have so many more years ahead of you to just keep playing the game and loving the game and getting the experience; even if it only turns into a college scholarship, I know your parents would appreciate that.
There's so many great avenues when you get older if you don't want to turn pro or you don't have the opportunity; in the world today, there's so many businesses where you can play golf and entertain your clients and all that good stuff. Just stick with it and enjoy and have fun; like Lizette said, smile all the time. It's a game we love and obviously there's up‑and‑downs, but just keep smiling and never give up. That would be my advice.
THE MODERATOR: A lot of our members in Girls Golf don't go through to play on the LPGA Tour, but currently, we do have about 40 players between the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour who are former Girls Golf alumni, which is a statistic that we are incredibly proud of.
In fact, we had 18 women compete in the U.S. Amateur who actually were alumni from our Girls Golf Program as well. So girls starting Girls Golf and Girls Golf may be a non‑competitive environment to start but it certainly has produced a lot of great players.
So going this way now, you know, golf gets this wrap that it's not like athletic and you don't have to be fit to play. That was like years ago. But today, you really have to work at it, right? It certainly helps to exercise and I know, seeing what you post on Facebook and knowing a little bit about you, that you are incredibly dedicated to fitness. Something you may not know, if you play one four‑hour round of golf a week, girls and women are 60 percent less likely to have breast cancer which is an interesting statistic, so it just shows that exercise can really help us in a lot of different ways.
But tell us about your commitment to exercise and maybe why you can encourage these girls at an early age to get started.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I feel exercise is very important. I've gotten really into it last three years since I turned pro pretty much with my trainer. I work out pretty much every day three to four times a week with my trainer.
You know, I really enjoy it. I've gotten really into it. As you know, you're probably on a golf course -- at tournaments you're at a golf course like six, seven hours a day. So you have to be fit and ready to go out there and be out there for a really long day.
So even after I practice or play, I'll go and get a little cardio in, do stretching; stretching is very important, keep your body flexible, and ready for the next day and the next round of golf. So I feel it's very important.
THE MODERATOR: Now, part of our Girls Golf activities this week, we start with a health‑breakfast on Saturday morning for moms and dads and daughters, and then we walk around the golf course and then we do a scavenger hunt where they basically have clues that will take them to each one of the five ambassadors where they might be.
So think about that, because where do you think you might see Lexi? Maybe our fitness van, huh? And then we get to do a Girls Golf clinic where we get to do all the stations so when you get to the exercise station, there's some exercises you're going to do that Lexi has helped us introduce, so think about that, okay. All right, Lexi Thompson, everybody.
All right, I said when you came in that you make little girls dream that anything can be possible. You kind of have a great story of overcoming a lot of adversity and people saying you couldn't do things. What can you say to these girls maybe about that persistence and belief that they can do anything?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I won't go into my story because I think everybody's heard it a thousand times, but I had a lot of issues growing up, and you know, I'm never -- well, I can say to you guys, I've never been the tallest, I've never been the fastest.
If anything, I've been probably the shortest my entire life. I think that if you have that persistence and you have that -- there's something special I think in everybody that's successful. They have that little bit of something that gets them over the edge that makes them, instead of just making cuts, they are winning golf tournaments. There's that little bit of something inside. There's that little bit of heart, that little bit of determination; that's wanting to do it. I've had that in me.
I've had a chip on my shoulder my entire life just because everybody has told me, you know, that you can't -- you shouldn't be doing what you are doing, you have a rod and five screws in your back, it shouldn't be possible. But I guess I'm the shining star that it is.
The MODERATOR: Yes, you are and we are all very proud of you, that's for sure.
So last year on the 18th green, you made me cry, not only with your donation to Girls Golf, which was amazing, but what compelled to you make that donation and what in your heart made that happen?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it was something I said to myself early in the week, and the reason I said it was, it's just what this tournament and this week is about. Ever since I joined the Tour, I've gotten to know Nancy and a lot of the retired players, and they have done so much to get the LPGA Tour where it is, and they have made the game better, made the Tour better, all along the way.
And when I'm done playing, I want this tour to be in a better place when I'm done. That's my ultimate goal. I'd love to win tournaments. I'd love to do that. When these girls join this tour, they need to be playing for way more money on way better golf courses on the big stage, on network TV. That's what I want these girls to be doing, because that's where we should be.
So that's my goal right now, and that's really why I did it. I did it to say, thank you to the founders and I did it to give these girls an opportunity.
Yes or no, it was such a cool scene. I had it in the back of my mind and then when they call walked up behind me on 18, I was like, well, I guess I have to do it now. So it was just such a cool scene, just -- I don't know, it was just one of the wins that I definitely will never forget.
THE MODERATOR: We won't forget it, either. That $50,000 basically allowed 5,000 girls, it costs about $10 for a Girls Golf membership, to participate in Girls Golf for a year.
This week, we have a champions for Girls Golf wall with all of their pictures and we are getting $10 donations where someone can put a heart or butterfly up on the wall; and we are going to continue that Twitter campaign we have going on where people can donate through Twitter and through text.
And all of that money coming in is going to help us get to our goal, which is by the Olympics we'll have influenced over 200,000 girls in the game of golf. So it's an amazing statistic by 2016 so that's awesome.
I know the girls have a couple of questions.
Q. I have a question for Brittany. What did you learn most from the Girls Golf?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Oohh, that's a good question. What did I learn most? Can I think for a minute? (Laughter) probably just how to be respectful on the golf course. I mean, the Girls Golf Program teaches so much more than just golf. You learn so many life lessons and just to behave in the right way and to be just a young little adult; and "yes, ma'am", "no, ma'am," and just how to be respectful probably was one of the big things.
Golf was the fun part of it but they teach you so many more things and I think that's why this organization, the Girls Golf Program, is to awesome, because they teach so much more than just the game of golf, which is the fun part.
Q. Who are all the golf coaches or instructors in your life?
LEXI THOMPSON: Growing up and still now, I don't have too many coaches. I work with Jim McLean right now on my swing and pretty much everything.
But growing up, actually my dad new my golf swing pretty well and both my brothers have helped me out a lot growing up but I didn't really have a specific coach growing up. But now I've worked with Jim McLean or probably the last six years. I just went out and tried to hit it as far as my brothers.
THE MODERATOR: So is it important to have a coach and maybe to have the same coach, because it sounds like you've had one main coach.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I basically have had one coach, but I don't think it's that important. I mean, I think the most important thing is trying to find a coach that you really like and knows the golf swing and teaches you a way that you understand the best, and that's why I'm with Jim McLean. Because he's not technical, and he allows me to feel the instructions out instead of really thinking about where my golf swing has to be.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I think it's different for everybody. I know Stacy has a great coach, and I know Lexi and I are more feel players. I haven't had a lesson in forever -- which could be why my game is where it is but that's debatable. It's just different for everybody. It's just whatever you feel.
Q. A question for Stacy. How old were you when you started playing?
STACY LEWIS: I was eight when I started playing. I would just kind of tag along with my dad on the weekend. I had two sisters and neither one of them wanted to play. So it just became something that my dad and I could do. It turned into a college scholarship and then it turned into this.
Q. Who is the individual that got you where you are today?
STACY LEWIS: Dad. I think everybody would probably say parents up here. For me, my parents, they were huge. They understood kind of -- even now they are the people I go to when something is going wrong. They have helped me through so much. They have been there along the way. They encourage me but they also brought me back to earth when that needed to happen, and just been a really good balance for me.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I would totally agree. We own a day care still to this day; and we had to sell our house so I could go play junior golf at a different high school, a better high school, just so my game could get better. And we moved probably five times within a very short period of time. They sacrificed so much to get me where I am today. Family is definitely a huge part of all of our lives.
Q. On average, how often do you practice?
LIZETTE SALAS: Besides Brittany, you kind of learn and kind of trial and error what works for you. I like to stay balled. I don't like to stay out on the golf course for too long. I get a little distracted easily.
So for me, max, maybe four hours a day, and I have another life outside of golf. I teach; I have a junior golf program myself and I like to give back to my community. So I do other things besides being on the range and playing golf.
STACY LEWIS: I practice quite a bit. I enjoy it. I love going out on the golf course and like just throwing a ball down behind a tree and figuring out how to get it in the hole. Just doing stuff like that versus sitting on a range and just hitting ball after ball after ball. I try to make it fun.
Like Lizette said, it's really important to have a balance. My parents, early on, they were like, you have to have other things that you like to do because you definitely have to get away from it. So my parents, I did all kind of sports growing up. I never really stuck just to golf. Now, of course it's our job. So we do it all the time but at this age, you have to have fun with it.
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm like Stacy. I like going out and I enjoy playing a lot. I'll go out and play more than 18 holes a day, just shoot for a score and then I'll play with a few friends on the golf course and play little matches for money and stuff and just keep it interesting -- candy; it used to be for chores.
Always keep it fun out there. I always enjoy going and working on a specific thing in my game. There's always room for improvement and that's what I love about the game. It's always a challenge. I love waking up and knowing I'm going out and doing what I love and working on my game. So that's the most important thing.
Q. For everybody, what is your home course?
STACY LEWIS: I grew up in the Woodlands, Texas. It wasn't really one course, there was a bunch, but that general area.
LEXI THOMPSON: I grew up playing on Eagle Trace. That's the course I live on right now but I practice out of Trump International up in West Palm most of the time.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I'm in Florida, as well and I practice at a course called Bardmoor.
TIFFANY JOH: Maderas Golf Club. But when I was growing up I practiced at a par 3 course called Colina Park.
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, I'm also on the West Coast, and I grew up in Azusa. I played on the golf course where my dad worked as a mechanic, but now I practice out of Palos Verdes Golf Club in Southern California.
Q. For everybody, too; who is the most competitive out of all five of you?
LIZETTE SALAS: That is so me. Just kidding.
We are all very competitive in a different way. Our personalities are so different, and -- I don't know, we are all just --
STACY LEWIS: I think we are all competitive just in different ways.
MODERATOR: One of the things I will tell you about golf is in golf, you're not always going to win. In fact, winning is something that's very special. And you have to understand that when you do come in second or when you do maybe not reach your goal, that that's okay. There's another time and there's another tournament to keep trying.
So never give up and never get discouraged, because these are the most amazing players on the LPGA Tour, and they don't win all the time. In fact, these five up here, maybe one of them will win, but it's just going to be one, and we are hoping one of you wins this week.
On that note, I don't know about you, but I'm so happy to have these five as representatives of our LPGA USGA Girls Golf Program and we can't thank you enough for your commitment to growing the game for girls and being such amazing role models. I think you'll have some of the girls on the course with you today as caddies so they will be out there with you helping you with clubs and hopefully learning from you.