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Becky Brewerton aiming to breakthrough in 2005

In July 1997, a keen 14-year-old 5 handicap golf fan sat down in front of her television with her father to watch the finest women golfers in the world compete for Weetabix Women’s British Open at Sunningdale.

The raven-haired teenager made the sofa her home all weekend. She was enthralled with at some of the pure shot making by the eventual winner Karrie Webb. She marvelled at the sheer power and presence of Laura Davies and dreamed of playing among them one day, striding the fairways as a touring professional.

She witnessed Webb set the course record of 64 and set the tournament record of 269 and afterwards, removed herself from the sofa, picked up her Slazenger clubs which she shared with her father and headed for the driving range to try and emulate the stars on TV.

Not too many months later, she embarked on a sterling amateur career and represented firstly Wales and then Great Britain and Ireland in the 2000 Curtis Cup team.

Now, the dream is realised for the once wide-eyed teenager, as Martin Park discovers, Becky Brewerton can hold her own inside the ropes with the world’s best golfers.

After a solid rookie year in 2004, where she finished 8th on the LET order of merit, the 22-year-old from Abergele is determined to make 2005 her breakthrough year.

‘Brew’, as she is popularly known on Tour, left the amateur ranks in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after being dropped from the 2002 Curtis Cup squad and that prompted her decision to turn professional.

Still an amateur, Brewerton came to the fore on the LET with two sterling performances in 2003 where she finished second at the Tenerife Ladies Open and repeated the feat on home turf at the Wales WPGA Championship of Europe, where only a 74-foot birdie putt from Australian Shani Waugh at the final hole at Royal Porthcawl denied her the chance of becoming the first amateur to win on Tour in 19-years, when Scotland’s Gillian Stewart won the 1984 IBM Open at The Belfry.

But these were no flash in the pan performances.

Brewerton earned her Tour card easily when she took the plunge into the paid brigade and in 2004, arrived on Tour with all guns blazing. She racked up another runner’s up spot in Tenerife and went on to post two more top-three positions. At the start of the 2005 season, she is more learned and wizened and is determined to make her mark.

“To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with some things last year. It was a good year, don’t’ get me wrong and if you’d told me I would finish 8th on the order of merit, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Brewerton.

“Overall, it was great and I really enjoyed it. But I felt that a couple of times when I had a chance to win, I didn’t do myself justice. It’s not that I blew it. I just didn’t close the deal out.

“I think that the part of the year I learnt from most was the second part of the season. When I got to Evian, the Weetabix and the HP Open, I had a real dip in form.

“At the beginning of the season, I was saying ‘well, you know it’s my first year and I want to learn and enjoy it and take it all in’.

“But because I started well, by the time I got halfway through the year I was getting into the thought process of getting frustrated at not being up there. I’d gone from the stage of not putting any pressure on myself to totally the opposite and it was too much. So when it came to the big events, I piled too much pressure on myself and I just didn’t play well.”

The dip in form, she admitted, was down to a couple of factors. Not only was she expecting a lot of herself in her first year, she confessed to making a strategic mistake in her scheduling by opting out of the OTP Bank Central European Open in Hungary, just prior to the big events in Europe.

“I wish I had played there now, that was probably a mistake. But at the time, I was thinking that it would be a really long stretch of events, so I decided to miss out on Hungary. But I think I would have been better of going now in hindsight.

“I know I got a lot of criticism for that and looking back on it I think that was a mistake, but I suppose these are the things you need to learn in your first year.”

Normally, finishing 8th on the order of merit, you might expect to win the Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year award comfortably. But in a year which heralded a fine crop of youngsters, Brewerton had to play second fiddle to the remarkable Minea Blomqvist from Finland, who won once, fired a brace of 62s en-route to finishing one spot ahead of the Welsh woman on the order of merit.

But after a winter playing golf on the links at Abergele and at nearby Conwy, Brewerton has honed her game and begins the 2005 season relishing her first trophy.

“That’s my aim this year, to win,” she added, with a big grin.

“I was in with a chance at three or four events last year and didn’t do it, so if I’m in with a chance this year, hopefully I’ll take them. I really want to push on and get a couple of victories under my belt.

“The winter was really good preparation for this season. I decided to get back to a few basics in my swing and practiced them long and hard.

“I played a lot more on the course rather than just beat balls on the range, so I’ve managed to get the scoring side of the game ready for this year.”

In her first event of 2005, the Women’s World Cup of Golf, Brewerton teamed up with compatriot Becky Morgan in South Africa and heading down the back nine on Sunday, just as the Japanese pairing of Ai Miyazato and Rui Kitada were seemingly about to capitulate, the two Becky’s tried to force the issue and bring the trophy back to the Valleys.

“We had our chances on Sunday. We were at four under and both of us were flying and playing really solid but then we followed each others mistakes. Becky bogeyed the 12th then I doubled the 13th and we got found out at the end. I think we felt we needed to do too much and were going for it a bit too much.

“It was good to be in there with a chance and it’s another week where I feel I’ve learned something new and I even had the chance to play with some awesome golfers like Meg Mallon and Karrie Webb.

“It was really weird for me. I mean, playing with Meg Mallon…she’s an absolute legend…then playing with Laura Davies…then Karrie Webb. Karrie and Laura were the two I used to watch and I always wished I could be like them.

“I still remember watching Karrie Webb win the Weetabix at Sunningdale in 1997 and I remember thinking that I wished I could play like that…and there I was playing with her, Laura and Meg…wow!”

It’s been an arduous journey at times, but with constant support from her family, especially her father, Steve, Brewerton has now finally making it in the career she always dreamed about. But she admits that sometimes, she needs to remind herself of how privileged she is.

“I do have to pinch myself sometimes,” she added. “It’s weird to think that I’ve come so far, so quickly in my career and I perhaps sometimes I don’t appreciate it enough. Maybe I get too hard on myself sometimes but I’m thankful for what I do and I look at who I am playing alongside. One thing I need to do is not beat myself up too much sometimes.”

But Brewerton is hard on herself and like all top sports persons, she will not settle for second best. Along with the goals of winning her first title, she has aimed a lot higher and has targeted a place on Catrin Nilsmark’s team in The 2005 Solheim Cup.

“I was trying so hard at the end of last year that whenever someone asked me about Solheim, I used to say that I hadn’t really though about it much…but I was fibbing! The truth is that I am I really desperate to play in that event.

“It’s just a huge, huge thing and it’ll be in my mind all the time this year. Each week, I’ll be looking at what’s going on where I am in the rankings. I think if I did get in The Solheim Cup, I really would have to pinch myself and then I might stop beating myself up and think that I’m actually half-decent!”

The cognoscenti of the Ladies European Tour are in acquiescence that it’s not a matter of if she is ‘half decent’, more a matter of how good she will be, when she will win, how many more times she’ll win and whether or not she will make the team this year to face the Americans.

She truly is ‘Special Brew’.

 

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