RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lizette Salas no longer wonders whether she’ll win a major championship, she wonders when.
Salas twice finished runner-up in the majors last season, at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the AIG Women’s Open. She’s confident that her change in attitude will be the difference in helping her capture her first major title in her 11th season on the LPGA Tour.
“It’s time to take it up a notch and finally get it done,” Salas told GolfChannel.com.
Salas has six top-10s in major championships since joining the LPGA Tour, but she really began knocking on the proverbial door in 2019. She twice finished in the top 5 that year, including a runner-up at the Women’s Open at Woburn Golf Club, where the championship slipped away from her and into the hands of the "Smiling Cinderella," Hinako Shibuno, who made an improbable putt on the 72nd hole to win.
“I’ve been close several times,” Salas said. “Instead of looking [at it] like, ‘Oh, I can’t get it done,’ it’s like, I just have to keep knocking on the door.”
Salas’ dream of one day winning a major championship is rooted at Mission Hills Country Club, the site of the Chevron Championship.
When Salas was 14 years old, she made the two-hour drive with her father, Ramon, from their home in Azusa, California, to Rancho Mirage to watch Lorena Ochoa compete. At the time, Ochoa was the only player from Mexico on the LPGA Tour. Salas was making an impact in Southern California as one of the few female Mexican-Americans to play golf, and witnessing Ochoa gave Salas the hope that she, too, could one day compete at the highest level.
“She remembers me going out to watch her,” Salas said about meeting Ochoa. “Representation for me was huge and knowing if she could compete with the best in the world, that I had a chance.”
As Salas followed her idol around the golf course, she would position herself along the rope where she could get close to Ochoa as she walked between holes. Salas remembers carrying a homemade sign that said ‘Si se puede,’ which, when translated from Spanish, means ‘You can do it.’ She recalls also saying those words to Ochoa, who thanked the young supporter for her kind words and gave her a golf ball. It was a fangirl moment that, to this day, makes Salas smile.
From those early days at Mission Hills, Salas dreamed of the chance to make the winner’s leap into Poppie’s Pond and follow in the footsteps of Ochoa, who made the jump after her victory in 2008. This will be her last chance, as Thursday begins the final Chevron Championship to be played at Mission Hills and gone will be the tradition of jumping into the pond beside the 18th green.
“I've had some really good memories there, and the fact it's going to be the last one, it's kind of bittersweet,” Salas said about leaving Mission Hills. “But that just means I got to go to work and make sure I get to jump in there.”
Lizette Salas knows it’s only a matter of time before she earns her first major championship. She just hopes that time is now.