Any athlete will say that it is one of the biggest honors of a player’s career to represent one’s country in international competition. LPGA and Symetra Tour player Julieta Granada has a long history of representing her native Paraguay, including earning the honor of being the flagbearer during the Opening Ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Last week, the 32-year-old, who is looking to spark a resurgence on the LPGA Tour, added another tally to her impressive list by taking the silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
“I always love representing Paraguay in an official capacity,” said Granada, who finished four strokes behind American Emilia Migliaccio, an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf alumna. “I always seem to perform OK. I love playing for my country and it’s different. It takes a little getting used to. It’s not like our normal weeks out here. It’s really special and fun.”
Granada’s individual silver was not the only hardware she took home from Lima. She teamed with her fellow Paraguayans Carlos Franco, Sofia Garcia and Fabrizio Zanotti to earn silver in the Mixed Team competition, five strokes behind the Americans. Zanotti added to the medal tally by taking gold in the men’s competition, giving the Paraguayan golfers three of the five overall medals earned for their country.
“We got to practice with the guys and see them play. It was really cool,” said Granada. “Paraguay overall in golf did really well. We got three medals so we’re happy with our performance.”
The Pan-Am Games, affiliated with the International Olympic Committee, brings together elite athletes from North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Last week’s competition was Granada’s second Pan-Am appearance, joining her bronze-medal performance in 2015. She also took gold at the 2014 South American Games and teamed with Celeste Troche to win for Paraguay at the 2007 Women’s World Cup of Golf.
2019 has been a rebuilding year for Granada. In 2006, her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, she won the season-ending LPGA Playoffs at the ADT and became the first player in LPGA history to earn a $1 million winner’s prize. Move ahead to this year and Granada is playing primarily on the Symetra Tour, refocusing on her game and hoping to reclaim a full LPGA Tour card. She has three top-three finishes in her 13 starts this year and sits sixth in the Volvik Race for the Card standings heading into this week’s FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. The top 10 players at the end of the season will earn full LPGA Tour status for 2020.
“Last week I had to sacrifice a Symetra (event) to play in (the Pan-Am Games). I was OK with that. But at the same time, I got passed on the money list,” said Granada, who also has two LPGA Tour appearances this year. “I need to come out here and perform and get some good results. Last week is over. It was fun but this is a new week and I’ve got to show up with my game.”