When Beatriz Recari joined the European squad in Colorado last week, the Solheim Cup rookie expected keen competition but had no idea that she and her 11 teammates were about to make history.
“It was my first experience at the event,” Recari told us Tuesday from Edmonton, where the 20th-ranked golfer is competing in this week’s Canadian Women’s Open. “But I could never have imagined it happening this way.”
“This way” was, of course, a monumental 18-10 drubbing of the home team by the visitors, who earned their first Solheim Cup triumph on U.S. soil in the 13-year history of the biennial matches. Recari’s squad also won by an historically large margin and boasted the first player, Caroline Hedwall, to go 5-0 in the competition.
Recari, who has two LPGA Tour victories this season, went 3-1 in her impressive Solheim Cup debut. The key to the European thrashing of a team laden with U.S. stars, including reigning British Open champ and world No. 2 Stacy Lewis, Recari said, was teamwork and the inspirational leadership of captain Liselotte Neumann.
The Euros could have entered the players’ room Saturday night whooping and hollering and mentally putting the tourney in the win column after sweeping the afternoon matches. Despite what proved to be an insurmountable lead for her unit, however, Neumann kept her players fired up for Sunday’s singles finals.
“Even when we won four points out of four in the afternoon matches on Saturday,” Recari said, “we came back to the room and [Neumann said], ‘It’s not over until it’s over.’ [She gave us] that motivation to get 12 points out of 12 [on Sunday]. We were very close, we got [7.5] out of 12, so she was such a good motivator and such a good leader.”
Seven-time Solheim Cup player Suzann Pettersen appeared to be the heart and soul of the European effort, but Recari said No. 3 in the world carried herself as any other member of the team.
“I don’t think she likes being called a leader,” Recari said of the 32-year-old
17-time Ladies European and LPGA Tour winner. “But you can’t deny the fact…she was the most experienced player on the field, as well as Catriona Matthew. “She was just so pumped up…and all the time encouraging, but we were all like that — in the bus, in our player’s room, our hotel — and we were just all the time encouraging each other.
“We were determined to get the cup, and after Saturday we had the goal to make history with the biggest margin [of victory] and we did but it was just all the time we were a team,” Recari added. “I wouldn’t call her a leader because she doesn’t like that but [Pettersen] was key on the team.”
The European squad made another type of history by fielding the youngest golfer ever to play in the games and 17-year-old Charley Hull put Paula Creamer away, 5 and 4, in their Sunday singles match. Though she played without nerves the entire week, Hull is a teenager, and after surgically dismantling the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champ, asked the LPGA Tour star for her autograph — which Creamer smilingly provided.
“I knew she was going to win,” Recari said about Hull’s one-on-one with Creamer. “Just her personality. She’s so young, she’s fearless…she was just so relaxed all week and she didn’t seem like she got nervous at all.”
While considering that Hull’s youth may have had something to do with her free-wheeling style of play, Recari said it was just the way the youngster from England went about her business that set her apart.
“I think it’s more personality because if you put another young player on the team, maybe it wouldn’t have worked,” Recari said. “She sees things differently, for sure. She played great.”
Recari, who’s in the star-studded field at Royal Mayfair Golf Club, has taken on some off-course work as well to help raise awareness about a problem that she struggled with but has since overcome. The 25-year-old from Spain went public about her health problems earlier this year when she agreed to become “ambassador” for the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness. Recari told Golfweek’s Beth Ann Baldry that, early into her professional career, in 2007, she got so weak from not eating that she had trouble walking, lost handfuls of hair, and weighed just 100 pounds.
“I felt it was my obligation to get out there,” Recari told us. “I didn’t see that many people were covering that issue and since I was affected personally, I felt that I had to go out there and raise some awareness and share the information I learned that helped me recover.”
In her ambassadorial role, Recari will host the inaugural “Beatriz Recari and Friends Alliance Golf Classic” this fall in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with all proceeds benefiting the foundation. She will also act as a motivational speaker at events and speaking engagements around the nation.
“It started for me, when you’re growing up, you know, everything that you see out there is whether it’s going to make you fat or not,” Recari said in an interview during the LPGA Tour’s 2011 Founder’s Cup. “Or you have to stay thin because that is associated with being successful, and that’s what you see in all the people are like, I’m trying to lose weight and everything.
“You hear it constantly, not only in magazines, but just out there on the street. And when I was growing up, I didn’t understand,” Recari added. “Like all of a sudden I was like, why didn’t you eat that biscuit, it’s like well, because it’s going to make me fat….So that’s how I started.”
Healthy now, after turning to her family and a doctor for help, Recari will also serve as a mentor, along with 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, to younger golfers, at the Allianz Golf Camp. The camp will hold its inaugural session September 14-September 18 at St. Andrews and Recari will provide training and tips alongside professional coaches from St. Andrews Links Golf Academy.
“Golf is a great sport because it is one of the few that has no boundaries — it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, young or old, expert or amateur, there is something for everyone,” Recari said in a statement. “The Allianz Golf Camp 2013 [is] a unique opportunity for people to apply together for a once-in-a-lifetime golf adventure. I can’t wait to meet everyone at St. Andrews Links in September; I’m looking forward to sharing what I know and maybe learning a few things myself!”
The camp is part of “Live life in full swing,” a global initiative from Allianz, which has partnered with Recari, the 2013 Women’s British Open, and the 2015 Solheim Cup.
Recari was speaking ahead of the 2013 Allianz Golf Camp, a new mentoring scheme giving young golfers around the world the chance to participate in a five-day golf camp at St. Andrews Links that will feature the importance of mentoring in golf. The camp will take place at the ‘Home of Golf’ in Scotland from September 14-September 18.