If you’re looking for a reason to follow women’s golf, allow me to introduce you to Beatriz Recari, the LPGA rookie from Spain. And if you’re already an LPGA fan, then you should start following her.
At a glance, Bea — as her friends call her — immediately catches your eye because she’s irrefutably downright beautiful. Well, guess what? She’s also intelligent, well-spoken, witty, sweet and talented. Unfortunately, she had her first stalker experience last week in Mobile, AL, playing in only her fourth LPGA event. (More on that below)
I had the chance to sit down and chat with Bea on Wednesday. What I thought would be a quick 10 minute interview turned into a 45 minute talk. The 23-year-old speaks fluent English, not to mention Spanish, French and Norwegian, and her first year playing on the Ladies European Tour (LET), she studied economics. I really enjoyed getting to know her. She gave candid and thoughtful answers. I mean, I wish every player was as amazing and fun to interview as Bea. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan — you will be, too (if you’re not already).
Alright. Time to get to know her better. Me = bold. Bea = normal font. Duh. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Where did you grow up in Spain?
I grew up in Pamplona Spain, where the Running of the Bulls takes place. When I
turned pro, I missed a couple years, but I’ve seen it basically every year of my life.
That week, my grandmother says, is the week of no laws. It starts on July 6th, like they have a “welcome to the party” celebration. But it ofﬁcially begins on the 7th and goes until the 14th. It’s seven days of non-stop drinking. The bars only close for an hour every day just to clean. The city has 500,000 residents and that week $2 million people show up. I don’t even know what’s the craziest thing I’ve seen. What haven’t I seen? People are running around naked, dirty, peeing, pooping — everything.
When did you start playing golf?
I started playing when I was 11. My father played professional soccer and then coached professionally. Because of health issues, my dad decided to give up soccer for golf. He asked me to caddy for him at tournaments. I liked it so much that I asked to sign up for lessons. A month later, my parents took me to the Spanish Championships. After that, I was so motivated and liked it so much that I wanted to take it up seriously. At the time, I was taking piano lessons. I said I’d exchange piano lessons for golf. He said, “OK, but you have to commit to it.”
When did you turn pro? I think I read something about you going to school the first year you played professionally?
I was 18. I had some offers to play college golf in the US, but I wanted to go pro. The ﬁrst year I played on the LET, I also studied economics at the University of Pamplona, which is one of the best universities in Spain. I was very happy that year, but it was also very hectic. I had 14 subjects — six the first semester and eight the second semester — I studied that year and passed them.
I loved studying economics. I’m really good at numbers. My parents are accountants. During May and June that year, I didn’t sleep because I had to travel and play tournaments. Then I would come home and take exams every day. My parents told me to sit down and make a decision because I was driving myself crazy and them crazy, too. I was very irritable because I was stressed. So they would say, “Hi,” and I would be like, “WHAT?” I decided to play pro full time because I can always go back to ﬁnish school, which I will do.
You speak English very well. Did you study it while you were growing up?
My parents were very conscious about me learning English. They don’t speak English, so they told me that if I wanted to have a successful career in business or anything, I needed to speak English. When I was ﬁve, I started taking classes with a private tutor. I thought it was so mean because all my friends were playing and I had to go to English lessons four days a week in between classes at school during my lunch hour. I was so angry at my parents, but I had a great advantage so I’m thankful.
What’s your relationship like with your parents?
Yeah, I’m an only child. It’s hard not to be very close. They’re more linked to me because I’m over here. I talk to them almost every day.
I heard your caddie is also your boyfriend. What’s his name, by the way?
His name is Andreas Thorp. He’s caddied for me the last year and half. We met in ‘08 halfway through the season. We started dating, and at one point, he was looking for a player and I was looking for a caddie. We thought we’d give it a try and if it didn’t work, then no big deal and it if it did, then great. The ﬁrst tournament together in Finland, we ﬁnished third. The next tournament, it was second. So we decided it would work. It’s tough when you have someone that close to you, emotions can get in the way. But for me, I feel lucky that I have someone that close to me working because I know he’s going to do his best.
How would you compare the ladies on the LPGA and the LET? What’s the difference? Has it been easy to make friends?
Here, it’s more professional, so everyone keeps to themselves more. Most of the players have their entourage with them every week, so it’s more difﬁcult to interact with them. In Europe we travel alone so we all hang out. It’s different that way, but you understand why. There are more cultures here. But I’ve made some friends. I met Christina [Kim] last year and I know Morgan [Pressel]. At the Mojo 6, there were only 16 of us, so I got to know some of them better.
Did you like the Raceway Golf format at the Mojo 6?
I liked it on Thursday because it was based on points. If you lost the ﬁrst match, it wasn’t over because you still had two more matches. On Friday it was just straight match play for six holes. I think it’d be better to make the quarterﬁnals and semiﬁnals nine-hole matches, and then on Saturday, play 18 holes for the final match.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love shopping, reading and studying. I really want to visit NYC. I’ve traveled all around the world, but I’ve never been to New York!
Who are your favorite designers and where do you like to shop?
I like Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and Dolce and Gabbana — all the Italian designers. I met up with Christina [Kim] in Milan last summer and loved going shopping with her. I actually went back to Milan after New Year’s because of the sales. It’s the best. I got amazing pieces there. The temperature was minus-five Celsius. I waited in the queues for an hour just to get in the shop. The Dolce stop was connected from one side of the street block to the other end with a tunnel. I love fashion.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Right now, crime. I love the Millennium trilogy by the Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Have you read them? I read anything. I read every day. I always have books with me. My boyfriend he only reads crime and I wasn’t really into crime, but thought I’d give it a try. As soon as I opened the ﬁrst page, I couldn’t put it down. I read until 3AM and ﬁnished a 600-page book in ﬁve days.
If you weren’t playing professional golf, what would you be doing?
I would have my own business. My parents have a restaurant but they’re also accountants. When I was studying, I loved marketing. I want to do something I enjoy. Something that involves marketing with fashion or sports. My parents have an accounting ofﬁce and I always told them, I want to study economics, but I can’t work in an ofﬁce all day.
How have you played in your rookie year so far?
I’ve played up-and-down. It’s been an adjustment process for me. The courses are longer and the greens are faster. I’m hitting many hybrids into greens. I’ve had to adapt to the LPGA, courses, cultural and players. I played well at La Costa. Last week in Alabama was so-so. I had a stalker there.
What?! Tell me what happened.
I had to have two police ofﬁcers walk with me on the course in the second round at the Bell Micro Championship. At La Costa in March, I met a Spanish couple I became friends with. This other guy was following me and started talking to the Spanish couple. He would cheer, “Let’s go, Bea!” He followed me every round, the driving range, the chipping range, the putting green. I just thought, “He’s an old man, whatever.” On the last day, I gave him my cap, signed it, and thanked him for his support.
The other week, I received an email from the Spanish couple, saying that guy from La Costa wanted to see me play in Alabama. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It turned out to be a pain in the ass last Thursday. Anything I did, he would clap and cheer really loud. He was really over-the-top. On the second hole, the girls I was playing with asked, “Who is he? Is he a housing guy or something?” “No, it’s just a fan.” He gave me presents, too.
On Friday I called the LPGA and asked them to help deal with him. He was staying at my hotel. I felt very uncomfortable. So I played with two police ofﬁcers on Friday.
What’s the strongest point of your game?
Putting. I want to increase my distance, but I’m very accurate.
How’s your mentality different going into a match-play tournament compared to stroke play?
In stroke play, if you make a bogey, it’s not really a big deal, but if you make one in match play, you lose the hole. It’s more like tennis, where it’s one-on-one. You have to play more aggressive. You just have to win the hole. I have good memories of match play. All the tournaments I won as an amateur were match play. It suits my personality because I’m Spanish and ﬁery. Like [Rafael] Nadal. I’ve actually been trying to adapt the good things I do in match play to stroke play.
You’re playing against Brittany Lincicome. Thoughts?
She hits it far.
What’s your favorite (alcoholic) drink?
A good Spanish wine, like Vinardanca (sp). I don’t drink that much. I just need one glass. I don’t need to drink to have fun. I have a glass of wine or champagne and that’s great. If I have more, I’ll get sick.
Do you have any bad habits?
Actually, no. A friend of mine told me, “You’re the daughter any parent would want to have. You don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t take drugs, you’re good at school, you’re good at sports.”
Nothing at all?
Um, I used to be really messy before I turned pro.
GASP. That’s terrible. I’m appalled. Well, long interview, huh? I even excluded some great bits for another story I want to write.
Bea plays against Brittany at 12:16 today. Cheer for her! Just not too loudly. She doesn’t need to deal with more stalkers.