Looking to shake off a disappointing 2014 campaign, Rebecca Lee-Bentham has been working hard in the off-season to ensure she puts up more consistent results in 2015.
“Overall, 2014 wasn’t a great season for me, as I struggled through many weeks, physically and mentally,” admitted the 22-year-old who made the cut in only seven out of her 17 LPGA tournaments last season.
As a result of her inconsistency, at the conclusion of the 2014 LPGA campaign, Lee-Bentham was left with conditional status for 2015.
Looking to improve on that, she entered the final stage of LPGA Q-school last December in hopes of finishing in the top-20 to regain her full status.
Despite recording a 2-under par and being the top Canadian born player in the field, the Toronto native finished in a tie for 28th and just missed out on her goal.
“I thought I played well in Q-school…….I just didn’t putt the way I needed to and missed out on full status by a couple shots,” she said.
So unlike her previous three seasons on the LPGA tour, Lee-Bentham explains that she will have to work a little harder to gain entry into certain tournaments.
“Since I have conditional status, I will most likely be on the alternate list for the first few events of the year. The Coates Golf Championship in Ocala is the first tournament on the LPGA calendar which I will try to qualify for if I don’t make it in through the alternate list,” she pointed out.
As the 22-year-old Canadian prepares for the LPGA season opener which runs January 26-31, she is grateful to have the support of Golf Canada through the Young Pro Program.
An important member of that Golf Canada support team is Tristan Mullally, the head coach of the Canadian national women’s team.
“We support her in her travels and her day-to-day expenses; and Rebecca’s also got a great coaching staff that provides her with full support throughout the year,” he noted about the benefits of the program.
Having kept a close eye on Lee-Bentham’s progression, Mullally expects the young golfer to play closer to her potential this season.
“I’m excited about 2015 for Rebecca because up to now she’s underachieved and I think she’s about to make a move forward this year,” he said.
Lee-Bentham has been training long hours each day in Florida over the winter in order to fine tune all areas of her game.
Mullally was eager to point out the strengths in Lee-Bentham’s game that make her one of the country’s top professional golfers.
“Rebecca’s a tremendously consistent striker of the golf ball; she’s someone who regularly hits 15 or 16 greens out of 18 and she has a strong short game to go with that,” he noted. “And you can see that she’s getting better and her game is moving in the right direction.”
While she had her fair share of struggles in 2014, there were a few highlights – including the Marathon Classic last July in Sylvania, Ohio.
“My best finish was at the Marathon Classic,” recalled Lee-Bentham who finished in a tie for 12th place. “I learned a lot that week, experiencing what it felt like and what I needed to do to be on top of a leader board.”
According to the winner of that tournament, Lydia Ko, the young Canadian golfer is doing the right things to be able to put up results like she did in Ohio on a consistent basis this year.
“I think Rebecca is a great player,” said the 17-year-old phenom from New Zealand. “What really impresses me about Rebecca is that she is one of the first players to come out to the course in practice and she is also one of the last ones to leave. She is a really hard working player.”
The five time LPGA tour winner was also quick to point out the importance of the mental aspect of the game.
“Rebecca has a great personality and whenever I see her, she has a smile on her face,” Ko added. “Having confidence and also having fun are one of the most important parts of the game; and that’s what I try to work on too.”
Lee-Bentham agrees with both Ko and Mullally and believes she is capable of playing with far more consistency this season.
Having put in extra work in the off-season, the 22-year-old Canadian understands the key to a successful season ahead will be to maintain a positive mental approach and make the most of each opportunity.
“I want to focus on staying in the present; each tournament, each round, each shot,” said Lee-Bentham.
“I want to be able to say that I gave it all I got,” she added. “That’s all I can really do, and the results in 2015 will take care of itself.”