At Rio Olympics, golfer Laetitia Beck plans to be all business
LPGA pro says key to winning a medal is to 'not let the outside environment affect' her.
When we last spoke to golfer Laetitia Beck in September 2014, her ambitions were to qualify for the LPGA Tour and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Today, Beck has achieved both goals: she is playing on the tour and will represent Israel as a member of its team in Rio de Janeiro.
“Qualifying for the LPGA and Olympics definitely was an important step towards reaching my goals and increasing my self-confidence,” says Beck, who was born in Belgium and moved to Israel at age 6 with her family. She lived there for eight years and that's where she started playing golf at a local course. In those early days, her mom served as her caddy. She later relocated to Florida to further train and went on to become a star of the golf team at Duke University.
Her strategy for winning gold this summer includes skipping out on much of the pomp and circumstance. She’s so singularly focused on her golf game that she doesn’t plan to watch other events, sightsee or shop for keepsake souvenirs while in Brazil this summer. “I don't plan on going to any other venue. The Olympics is during our LPGA season and I have a couple of events following Rio so I have to continue concentrating on my game. Even though I travel a lot, I'm not a big tourist person. I have been living out of a suitcase for the last 10 years since I was 14, so I don't get excited when I travel to new areas,” she tells From The Grapevine. “My parents and brother are coming so they can bring souvenirs home.”
At the Olympics, she'll be competing against current No. 1 ranked player Lydia Ko from New Zealand as well as Lexi Thompson and Stacey Lewis from the United States. So what does Beck think of her chances to win in Rio? “Every tournament I play in the goal is to win. I have the skills, but for sure I will have to work on controlling my nerves. I'm competing against the best,” she tells us. “If I have a great week I believe I can win, but obviously the competition is going to be tough. I need to trust myself and my game, let my talent out and not let the outside environment affect me.”
The Rio Olympics marks the first time golf is part of the Olympics since 1904, on a course built especially for the Games. It’s an individual event, 18 holes on each of four days, and the lowest score wins the gold medal. Beck is preparing by playing until she heads to Brazil.
“Every tournament I play in, I display the flag of Israel and show people what I represent. It’s a factor that pushes and motivates me every day to become the best player I could be,” Beck explains. “Playing in the Olympics is another opportunity for me to show my pride. Also, I hope through participating in the Games, I could bring awareness about the sport of golf in Israel.”
The LPGA schedule is keeping Beck busy this year, and allowing her to compete almost every week. “I'm currently working on improving every part of my game with the focus mainly on short game and tee shots, and also working on my mental game and handling the stress on the course," she says. "Last week it was a great practice for me when I was leading a tournament for the first time. The only way to get better is facing it and experiencing it again and again while learning from it.”
While it would be great to pack an Olympic medal in that well-traveled suitcase, Beck has further-reaching aims. “The goal is to win on tour,” she says, “and eventually be able to use my image and position to help others.”
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