By Megan Cheung
Laetitia Beck hasn’t declared her major at college yet, but she is sure about golf. First, she wants to play professionally on the LPGA Tour. Then, she wants to contend for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
For the sophomore at Duke University, these aren’t impossible dreams. In August, Beck, 19, became the first golfer from Israel to play in an LPGA event. She secured her spot three days earlier, shooting a 1-under-par 71 in the open qualifier. The whirlwind week continued when she consistently made the cuts and played in all four rounds at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in Mirabel, Que. She was one of nine amateur players and she posted a four-day tally of 6-over-par 294 to tie for 70th place.
“It was very fun. It was the first time for me to play with professional players so I didn’t really know the level. If I want to play in the LPGA, I have to know how good they are, so it was very nice for me to see how far I am,” Beck said. She finished 19 strokes behind champion Brittany Lincicome.
Beck has been committed to the sport since winning the Israeli Open at age 12. At 14, she left her family in Caesarea, Israel to train and improve her game in the States. The decision was easy because her country lacked the facilities and competition. To this day, Israel only has one 18-hole golf course and Beck played – and won – against the men at the Championship this past July. While pursuing golf, she hopes her success will promote the sport in a country where basketball and soccer are the norm.
“Not many people know about golf and some people think it’s for rich people and old people. They don’t think it’s a sport really,” Beck said. “The people who play golf in Israel just love it. They just have to learn a little more about the game and I hope they will realize that it’s a great sport.”
The disciplined athlete finds pleasure in golf’s outdoor nature and quiet charm. Independent and fuelled by perfection, she also enjoys being in control of her game.
“I love practicing and trying to become the best that I can be,” she said. She is hard on herself, she admits, because there is always something to fix and improve. Her putting at the Canadian Open, for instance, was “frustrating” because she made several three-putts.
Still, Beck was “very happy” with her performance and members of the Jewish community were thrilled to support her throughout the week.
“I’m very proud to represent my country and Jewish people,” she said. She wears the blue and white, Israeli flag on her shoes in competition. “I will do anything to show where I come from.”
As Beck gears up for her second season with the Blue Devils, she hopes her first LPGA appearance won’t be the last.
“It’s easy to play one event. But if you get the [LPGA] card, it will make the difference.”