(CNN) – In September 2017, María Torres was huddled in a room in her grandmother’s house with ten other members of her family.
Hurricane Maria struck his native Puerto Rico. The strongest storm to hit the island in 85 years left death and destruction.
“It was really horrible,” María Torres explains to CNN. “We had no power, everything was off,” he says.
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12 months have passed and his reality is more than different.
She became the first Puerto Rican golfer to earn full-time status on the LPGA Tour, and this Friday, she fired a 69-shot round to share the lead midway through the Evian Championship, the final of the golf season.
With Puerto Rico devastated, María Torres sought to enter the LPGA Tour qualifying series, known as Q-School.
Fortunately, Torres was able to travel to the United States for the second stage of the process and achieved the goal.
Back home, Puerto Rico endured months of power outages due to electrical system damage.
“We were ten people and we all stayed in one room because we had a generator,” Torres recalls. “It was a kind of experience to wash clothes with my hands, I have to thank my aunts, they really helped me a lot,” he adds.
Not everything was easy after joining the LPGA Tour. Prior to the Evian Tournament, Torres had missed the cut in nine of the previous 12 tournaments, and has recorded only two top-10 finishes during his debut year.
But, on the shores of Lake Geneva, everything went as it should. An eagle was the highlight of a successful first day, while four birdies took her to the top of the rankings on Friday.
For a moment, Torres allows himself to think about the check for $ 577,500 for the winner.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I just want to keep playing,” he says, although he flashes a huge smile before admitting that “it would be incredible.”
“I’m just looking for opportunities and playing golf, that’s the only thing I can control,” he says.
A victory for Torres could also boost morale in a country that continues to rebuild.
And she participates in initiatives to contribute to Puerto Rico, organizing a program with her professional partner Rafael Campos, which raised $ 600,000 for charities on the island.
“It was amazing, just to see a couple of golfers come together to help us rebuild our country.” “It’s amazing, we are lucky to have friends who want to help us,” he said.