Almost a year after Hurricane Maria, Torres co-leads Evian Championship

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Almost a year after Hurricane Maria, Torres co-leads Evian Championship

LPGA Tour

Almost a year after Hurricane Maria, Torres co-leads Evian Championship

Nearly one year ago, Maria Torres was in a dark place, as in literally dark. Hurricane Maria had devastated her native Puerto Rico. She lived in one room with seven other family members to take advantage of her grandmother’s mini-generator. With Stage I of LPGA Q-School on the horizon and golf courses closed, Torres took a shag bag to a park near her grandma’s apartment complex to keep a club in her hand.

The delightful Torres couldn’t have possibly imagined that one year later she’d be co-leading at a major championship.

“… I never thought I was going to make it to Q-School,” said Torres. “I’m grateful to be here.”

Torres posted a sensational 5-under 31 on the back nine at Evian Resort Golf Club Thursday to shoot 6-under 65 and take a share of the lead with Carlota Ciganda at the Evian Championship.

It’s a long way til Sunday, but imagine how special a Torres victory would be as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches?

“We are kind of almost to normal,” said Torres of the rebuild. “We have so many stuff to repair, but I think we’re moving in a good direction and hoping that hurricane season doesn’t do anything to us.”

Torres, the first Puerto Rican player to earn full status on the LPGA, was a rookie in the truest sense of the word at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, where she opened with a 70. It’s unusual that player of her caliber earns a card without any tour experience as an amateur, not even a U.S. Women’s Open experience.

While that first round went smoothly, the months that followed did not. The Florida grad missed seven cuts in a row from April to June. It wasn’t until a tie for seventh at the Thornberry Creek Classic that Torres turned a corner. She followed it with a share of eighth at the CP Women’s Open.

“Opportunity is one of the words I (have) been working hard,” said Torres.

The big-hearted player wants to take advantage of opportunities when she can – like the eagle putt she poured in from off the green on the 15th – as well as create opportunities for others.

In March, Torres joined fellow Puerto Rican Rafael Campos as headliners of a pro-am that raised over $600,000 for local charities. The Puerto Rico Open Charity Pro-Am served to replace the Puerto Rico Open, a longstanding PGA Tour event.

Torres was deeply grateful to the LPGA players like Cheyenne Woods and Emma Talley, who came out to support her island.

Now Torres is a world away from San Juan, soaking up her first visit to France. She has a host of big names right behind her on the leaderboard, including So Yeon Ryu (-4), Brooke Henderson (-4), Inbee Park (-3) and the most recent major champ, Georgia Hall (-3).

Torres is ready to tackle whatever comes her way.

“I love the course,” she said. “It’s a really strategic course, and I don’t know, it’s awesome. It’s like you have to be here. You don’t have any advantages. You just have to play every shot as if it’s like your last one or something.”

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