Solheim Cup star Becky Brewerton is to make her tournament comeback when she competes next week at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
The two-time Ladies European Tour winner, who twice represented Europe, in the 2007 and 2009 Solheim Cups, last teed up competitively at the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters in Germany almost eight months ago, but she skipped the rest of the 2016 season due to a loss of confidence.
With more than 240 LET tournament appearances and 61 top-10 finishes, Brewerton is one of the UK’s most recognisable female golfers, with career earnings in excess of €1m and is currently playing with a 10-year exemption to the LET.
She burst onto the pro scene as an amateur in 2003, when she finished second twice as an amateur, at the Tenerife Ladies Open and Wales WPGA Championship of Europe. She looked set to become the first amateur in 19 years to win on the LET at Porthcawl, before Shani Waugh holed from 74 feet on the final green to deny her the victory. However, it wasn’t long before she joined the winner’s circle, with victories in the 2007 Ladies English Open and 2009 Spanish Opens, claiming another win in the 2011 Tenerife Match Play, (which was an unofficial event).
After a career-high of third on the Order of Merit and first on the Exemption Rankings in 2009, Becky’s confidence took a blow when she sustained a hip injury from a cycling accident in early 2013, resulting in a labral tear (fibrocartilage). She didn’t realise the seriousness at the time, but it would later cause havoc with her swing.
She explained: “I was trying to do a bit more exercise at the time and I ended up going down a steep hill on a road that wasn’t very smooth, with quite a few holes and I got to the bottom, tried to turn the corner, caught something, and almost went straight into a wall, so I slammed the brakes on and went over the handlebars, landing with my left hip joint straight into a curb. I cut my head open, completely scraped all the skin off my arm and hand. I hadn’t broken anything, but it looked like I’d had an operation. My whole leg went black from my toes to my hip, completely bruised. I didn’t realise what I’d done and I flew to Australia four days later, which was a poor decision. That was what started it all off.”
Becky made six cuts from 15 starts on the LET in 2013, eight from 19 in 2014; two from 12 in 2015 and three from seven in 2016. She withdrew from the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters after shooting an 88 in the first round.
After struggling on for almost four years, she decided the time was right to take a break.
“At that point, I thought that I might not play again,” she admitted, adding: “I completely went away from golf and for the first time in 12 years I took more than a week off. I was burnt out and didn’t touch a club for three months. I was concerned that I didn’t miss it that much, but as the weeks went on, I started missing it more and more and I started practising at the end of the year and my perspective has completely changed now. Psychologically, it is hard to be confident when you’ve got some issues with your swing, but when I started working with Warren (Bennett) it almost came back immediately and what a difference it has made.”
The Welsh 34-year-old has recently made massive progress, moved house to Virginia Water, joined Foxhills Golf Club and regained her competitive hunger. She could be set for an incredible comeback in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, next week. “I’m very excited because it’s been quite a long time since I’ve been this happy to be playing in a tournament. Practise has been going really, really well, so I’m feeling full of confidence. I haven’t competed for more than seven months so I’ll probably feel like I’m a rookie when I get there, so it’s almost like starting again,” she said.
“It’s a weird game. To go from hoping to break 80 to thinking you can win a Major, the emotional rollercoaster is unbelievable and I definitely feel like I’m back to the point where I could win again. It will be a good test. Recently, golf has brought out my worst personality traits and now I know what my weaknesses are and what to work on. I spoke to Warren and he said, you’ve got to go out there and enjoy playing in a tournament, before you place expectations on anything else. I can’t think of the last time I was genuinely looking forward to playing in a tournament and I am genuinely looking forward to playing in Morocco.”
Another reason to feel cheerful is that she will have the effervescent Helen Alfredsson as her caddie in Morocco, who was recently named as the new LET Player President.
Becky said: “‘Alfie’ has been amazing over the years and she has been such a big influence on my career. She was my first Solheim Cup captain and she made me feel part of the team and belong there. I’ve been to her place a couple of times to practise over the years and going there this year was the start of the real confidence, playing at Bay Hill, with Alfie, who by the way, is still shooting six and seven-under every day. She is still as good as she always was. That has made a big difference. She was coming to Morocco as LET Player President and she said, ‘What about caddying?’ and I ripped her hand off. It will be great for me and make me feel more confident, having someone who’s a Major winner and one of the best golfers ever to have lived, there caddying. She’s great and she knows me and what to say. It’s probably good that we’re such different characters. She might bring me out of my shell a bit more and I’m really looking forward to it. If nothing else, we’ll have a good time.”