This weekend, University of Arkansas golfer Gaby Lopez will enjoy her third opportunity to join LPGA players on the greens at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Here, she shares her thoughts on the tournament – as well as pursuing her dreams on and off the course.
WMT: You took up golf at age 4 while growing up in Mexico. What drew you to the sport?
Lopez: My dad introduced me to golf. It all started as a fun game, nothing serious. A couple of years later, Lorena Ochoa became the No. 1 women’s golfer in the world. That was when I knew that the impossible can be possible, and golf became my passion.
WMT: Tell us about your journey to today, where you’re a standout on the University of Arkansas golf team.
Lopez: Coming to the University of Arkansas has been the best decision I've made. I've grown as a golfer but more important as a person. I'm 100% certain that I have the right people around me, like Coach Shauna (Estes-Taylor) and Coach Mike (Adams), by my side that will always push me to be my best.
WMT: During this week’s event, you’re playing in front of hometown fans. What is that like? How does it compare to other tournaments?
Lopez: This tournament makes me feel like I’m at home. The Northwest Arkansas and Razorback communities have opened their doors to me and my family in a very special way. It is a huge honor to be able to represent my school and my country at the same time. Calling the Hogs with all the fans on No. 17 is one of my favorite golf moments - the energy is amazing. I feel blessed to have this opportunity for the third time in my collegiate career.
WMT: Empowering women to recognize their full potential is a longtime priority for Walmart. You’re certainly a role model for other youth – do you have any advice for young girls on not just pursuing professional sports, but succeeding in whatever they do?
Lopez: My advice would be to always do and pursue what interests you, whether that is golf, sports or anything else. Discipline and passion are two characteristics I think a person needs to be successful, and I think believing in yourself is the most powerful tool of all.
WMT: What are your own dreams, and what do you envision as your next step?
Lopez: I think everyone who plays the game dreams of
being the best player ever and I certainly want to be the best player I can
be. But I think more importantly I want to be remembered for what I
did off the golf course. I want to finish out my senior season with the
Razorbacks and enjoy every minute of the team atmosphere – that is a unique
experience in golf. After graduation, I’ll start work on earning my Tour card
and see where that journey takes me.