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Jul8WedIn a sport that sometimes brings the best to their knees, Canadian golfer Rebecca Lee-Bentham is standing tall. July 8, 2015 by Jayne Thurber-Smith
"I've proudly represented Canada for several years during my time on Team Canada and now on the LPGA Tour,” says Rebecca Lee-Bentham. “And I'm excited to see golf's first-ever inclusion in the Pan Am Games when they come to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) this month.”
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Making the Cut
Rebecca joined the TO2015 committee and its partners for the announcement in September 2013 that the chosen course for the Pan Am competition would be the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont.
“Having that home support would definitely be an advantage,” she reflects. “Angus Glen is a very nice course and they have some renovations planned to be able to handle the crowds.”
At the time of the announcement, the 21-year-old's golf game wasn't where she knew it could be. But the following week, Rebecca flew to France to compete at the Evian Masters, the LPGA's final major of the 2013 season. She was thrilled to finish 11th in a field of the best female golfers in the world, and to also land first place in Canada's female golfer ranks.
“I had been struggling with my self-confidence,” says Rebecca. “Doing well at a major was a huge motivator.”
So far in her golf career, Rebecca has won the 2010 Canadian Junior Girls' Championship and 2011 Canadian Women's Amateur Championship. She also competed one year for the University of Texas golf team.
“Rebecca has a wonderful golf swing and she's very solid in her mechanics,” says her Texas coach, Martha Richards. “She's played at a very high level and has shot some fantastic numbers.”
In November 2011, Rebecca turned professional, after finishing tied for ninth on her first try at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
“Professional golf has always been a dream of mine since I started playing,” says Rebecca. “To have it happen so quickly is an amazing opportunity. It was definitely a risk to sacrifice my chance of getting a free education and a degree from the University of Texas, but it was the right thing for me.”
It was a decision backed by her golf coach and her entire family—siblings, parents and grandparents who have paid many of the costs of her budding career. Rebecca is very grateful to all of them, but especially to her father who quit his job to caddy for her when she started competing and has been by her side ever since.
“He's been my main supporter,” Rebecca states. “He sacrificed everything to help me be where I am today.
“My dad picked up golf all on his own,” she continues. “He was a scratch golfer at one point and taught me everything he knew. Besides being my caddy, he's also my manager. There's no one I trust more. He's always looking out for the best in me. There are tough times when he pushes me but I always realize how blessed I am to have him.”
Besides wanting to make her dad proud of her, Rebecca has another reason for wanting to be successful in her golf career. She has a deep desire to do whatever she can for the millions of people in this world who are without proper water and nutrition. For her 20th birthday, instead of presents, Rebecca asked for donations to MyCharity: Water, a program that provides clean water to people in Third World countries.
“In the future, I definitely plan to get involved in more charities,” she says. “Golf was my opportunity to begin donating to needy causes. I've had so much help from family and friends, which motivates me to pay it forward by helping others. There are so many places where I can make a difference.”
Rebecca was raised in a Christian home, but moving to Texas for college made her faith even more real to her.
“My life wasn't as devoted to God as it became when I lived there,” Rebecca says. “I found a good church and surrounded myself with the right people. Then I got motivated and began to see the needs of others. It changed my life.
“God has given me the opportunity to do greater things than I ever imagined,” she says. “Yes, it's hard work, but it's all worth it in the end. Whenever times get difficult, God reminds me of what I'm working for.”