Like everyone, she’d rather be playing. Lizette Salas just recently bought a house about three miles from a golf course in Los Angeles County, an area that is still on lockdown from the coronavirus. As Salas told Michael Breed on his SiriusXM show A New Breed of Golf: “It is complete torture to not have it open. I’ve been hitting into a net that my dad built for me himself so I’m still getting some reps in, but it’s been pretty tough.”
In addition to hitting balls into the net, Salas has fallen into some routines that she expected – “I’m working out with my trainer,” she said – and some that she didn’t – “I’m homeschooling my nephew because my brother and sister-in-law are still working, so I’m getting a glimpse of what motherhood could be like in the future.”
But as courses slowly open in California, the nine-year LPGA Tour veteran will get back into gear with a positive, determined and confident mindset.
“I had big goals for 2020 and started out really strong,” Salas told Breed. “(The shutdown) is something that we can’t control and obviously it puts things into perspective. Our health is our No.1 priority and we want everyone staying safe. We’ll eventually get back out there and pick up where I left off.
“Last year was so memorable on so many levels. Played some incredible golf and my confidence level has been so high. Hitting the brakes for a few months has been frustrating but I have a great team behind me and some great sponsors who really believe in my goals. Our new goal is 2021 (is to make) the Olympics, Solheim and the International Crown. Of course, that means taking things one step at a time.”
The highlight of Salas’ 2019 season, a year where she had three top-5 finishes and earned over $1 million, was a runner-up performance at the AIG Women’s British Open where she shot a Sunday 65. In reflecting on that major, Salas said, “I take a lot of positives from that week - the work ethic that I had coming into that week and game plan that my caddie and I had throughout the week. We had a great test the week before at Evian, and I had played solid pretty much the whole year.
“To see footage of myself with that look in my eye, a look I hadn’t seen in a very long time, to know that it’s still in me and my drive had come back (means a lot). I had turned 30 a month before (the AIG Women’s British) and was kind of questioning how much time I had left and if I was past my prime. But being so close, I know I have so much left in me that these next couple of years are going to be really exciting.
“I’m really proud of myself. At the time (losing to Hinako Shibuno) stung quite a bit but the minute I got home from that 10-hour plane ride, I was over it and ready to get back to work. I think I finished third the next week in Canada. So, I really learned a lot about myself.”
Those lessons have carried forward, even though the lockdown, into 2020.
“Everything I need to work on comes back to the mental aspect of (the game),” Salas said. “Being a little more confident, more organized in how I prepare, communicating with my team a little bit more: it’s the fine details that really make a difference. And I’ve finally developed a team around me that allows me to go out there and enjoy myself.
“Now I know that I go into a tournament planning to win. I’m not just winging it and hoping that everybody goes well. I’m entering with a clear image of where I want to be at the end of the week and I’m out there grinding.
“I haven’t been this confident really since junior golf. It’s amazing the transition. Now I can be that type of aggressive player. I’m trying to step it up a notch. It’s putting that mentality into my practice and into my routine… It feels great. I’m so close.”