Meet two LPGA players with local connections

| April 26, 2018 | 1 Comment


During the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open, which brought some of the world’s best players in women’s golf to the Wilshire Country Club, several players had connections to the local community.

Between rounds, the Chronicle talked to two of those players about what it means to compete at a historic course in their own backyard.

Emily Tubert is no stranger to the greens at Wilshire. Her grandfather — Maurice Tubert — was a member of the prestigious club for 25 years.

“Sunday brunch at the club was my first exposure to golf,” she says, noting that it was her grandfather who inspired her to pick up the game.

Born and raised in Burbank, Tubert describes her town as the “closest you can get to having a small town in a big city.” And she admits that it wasn’t until she returned from attending the University of Arkansas (on a full golf scholarship) that she appreciated Southern California “much more.”

The John Burroughs High School (Burbank) alumnus played her rookie season on the LPGA Tour last year, her third year as a professional golfer.

“It was a struggle last year,” admits Tubert. “I had a lot of ups and downs — mostly downs — but I enjoyed it. And I learned from it.”

Tubert’s struggles included a dislocated shoulder and issues with her ball striking, which caused her to consider walking away from the sport “a bunch of times” … “But then I forced myself to take a moment to appreciate that I am living the dream.”

To aspiring young female golfers, Tubert says to keep working at it: “Golf is an incredible game for the opportunities it provides in life. It’s an asset for a woman who knows how to play it, especially if she plays it well.”

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Lizette Salas grew up in Azusa, but as a college golfer at USC, she practiced at Wilshire Country Club at least once a week.

“To have access to a Club like Wilshire is a great thing,” said Salas. “It gave me confidence. It changed how I thought of myself as a player.”

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Salas’ journey to LPGA professional golfer with career earnings of more than $3 million embodies the American dream.

Growing up, Salas’ father, Ramon, worked as a mechanic at Azusa Greens Country Club and constantly encouraged his kids to learn the game. In fact, Salas credits her father with most influencing her career.

“I was his last hope,” Salas says of her father; her two older siblings had other pursuits. “He had this vision that golf would be great for his family.”

Still, golf is expensive. And Salas admits that her family didn’t have much back then.

Determined to make a way, Ramon picked up extra shifts and additional jobs at the club in exchange for private lessons for his daughter.

By the time she made it to Azusa High School, she faced a new challenge: the school didn’t have a girls’ golf team. What to do? Lizette joined the boys’ team.

When it came time to apply to university, USC offered her a full scholarship to play on its women’s golf team, where she was named team captain and a member of the 2008 National Championship. She graduated in 2011 with a degree in sociology; the first member in her immediate family to earn a college degree.

It goes without saying, Lizette’s father is very proud.

At the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open, Emily Tubert was cut after the second round; Lizette Salas tied for 28th place, taking home $12,449 in winnings.

By Billy Taylor

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Category: People

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