It hits you like a brick,” says Becky Brewerton as she gathers her emotions. “I’m hoping this will be the week; the week where it all changes and the hard work pays off. But every week is the same. Monday and Tuesday, I feel fine. Then, as the clock ticks down to Thursday, I can feel the pressure building. The nerves are getting stronger. Thursday arrives and I’m trying to convince myself it will be okay. But I am putting on a front. It hits me as I walk to the first tee and I realise it’s happening again. I feel terrified – but by now it’s too late.”
There is a long pause as Brewerton takes a moment. We have been speaking for nearly 40 minutes and there have been a couple of these, but none seem as significant as this one. It is hardly surprising, as the 39-year-old continues to pore over the last ten years of a career that has been the absolute definition of ‘two halves’. Brewerton joined the professional ranks in 2003, with her reputation and glittering record as an amateur turning heads from the word go. By 2009, she was a multiple winner on the Ladies European Tour with two Solheim Cup appearances. Not yet 30, she was, just as everybody expected, going places – and she was always up for the fight.
Twelve years later and Brewerton is still fighting, but it is a battle of a different kind these days and one, thankfully, she is finally winning, despite having to counter some hefty blows along the way.
For a bit of context, Brewerton’s story came to light in November when she wrote an emotive blog – titled How did I become so bad at golf? – about how her game had sunk to such depths that she did not want to play anymore. This is not strictly true; she was desperate to play, but golf had become such a struggle that just getting through 18 holes would put an immense strain on her mental state. Selfconscious, embarrassed and struck down by a vicious case of the ‘yips’ – from the tee, not on the greens – the outlook was bleak to the point she had accepted her life as a professional golfer was over.
“I reached a point where I had come to terms with the fact that it was the end,” Brewerton says before another pause. “But I was determined to do one thing before I died, and that was to enjoy a round of golf again. Just one round, free of the fear in my head. I just wanted to enjoy one more round of golf. That was the hope I was hanging on for.”
It was June 12, 2011 when Becky Brewerton tapped in for a closing-round 68 to win the Tenerife Ladies Matchplay. At 28, the victory – and the £35,300 in winnings – was merely another step on her journey to being one of Europe’s top players. Although the season had been relatively low-key, her ten-year exemption off the back of a stunning 2009 had given her the security to continue building. But six months later, a hip injury curtailed the start of her 2012 campaign. Little did she know at the time, but it would prove to be the trigger for a dramatic collapse in form.
“I was out in Spain practising, building up for the Australia swing in January with a bit of warm-weather training,” Brewerton says. “One Sunday afternoon, I finished practice early and thought I would go for a bike ride; I was trying to push myself a bit more, because at that time I wasn’t the most vigilant in terms of my fitness and one of those people who found it hard to go to the gym. I was fit enough to play, but I was no athlete, put it that way.
“I was coming down this hill that was quite steep, and I came to the corner and hit a stone in the road. The corner was quite sharp and I had to slam the brakes on. I went flying over the handlebars and landed right on the edge of the kerb, which went into my hip joint. At first I thought I had gotten away with it as the pain had subsided, but the next day I woke and my leg was black. I had pushed some of my muscle into my hip joint.
“It was a week until I flew to Australia, and I went there and really struggled, comfortably missing the cut in every event. But still, I am just thinking it’s a physical thing and I’ll get over it.”
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