Recari among LPGA players with a cause

Beatriz Recari in Phoenix for the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Beatriz Recari in Phoenix for the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

PHOENIX – Yani Tseng watched a YouTube video about children who don’t have clean drinking water and grew upset. Then she watched the horrific images coming out of Japan and discovered a program that could meet both needs: UNICEF. Tseng wore a UNICEF T-shirt to her press conference and summed up commissioner Mike Whan’s vision in four words: “It’s all about charity.”

The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Whan’s outside-the-box initiative in which players play for free, was a fluid concept that quickly became reality. Whan listened to several top American players – who felt that initially not enough money was going to charity – and doubled the figure to $1 million. Kristy McPherson was one of the first to suggest players get a chance to choose their own charity. Whan made it so the top 10 finishers this week give to their own designated charities, with the winner donating $200,000.

The change made some players more personally invested in the event. It also opened up a treasure chest of storylines, allowing fans and media to see which causes are close to players’ hearts.

Take for example, Beatriz Recari, the stunning beauty from Spain. Her charity this week is The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness. 

“It’s something that resonates with me,” said Recari, who had problems with her weight while playing in Europe four years ago. 

Recari, 23, said she can’t really pinpoint the time when she became anorexic. 

“It’s a process, an addiction,” she said.

There came a point in 2007 when Recari said she could barely walk, her body was so weak. Her father, Jose Luis, flew to the Finnair Masters in August with a family friend and together they helped her hold it together emotionally so that she could make the cut and secure her LET status for the next season. Then she went back to Spain for the rest of the year to put her life back together.

“I remember nights I was so hungry I couldn’t sleep,” said Recari, who got down to 103 pounds. She lost half her hair.

Recari bristles when she hears people say eating disorders happen to girls with no personality. Something that can start off innocently enough, cutting out sweets, can slowly turn into a scary loop, where the quest to burn more calories than are consumed spirals out of control.

Today Recari weighs a healthy 120 pounds. She’s frustrated that seemingly everything people hear about food is “if it’s going to make you fat or not.” She’d like to start a blog that includes tips on fitness and nutrition.

Recari cautions that she doesn’t want this time in her life to be blown out of proportion. Yes, it was difficult, but she’s happy to be in a more educated and balanced place both physically and mentally. 

“For female athletes, there’s a fine boundary to eat so that I can perform but not lose my figure,” she said.

Last year Recari was on an airplane when Sports Illustrated called, asking if she’d like to pose in their Swimsuit Edition. The photo shoot conflicted with the Evian Masters and Ricoh Women’s British Open so Recari politely declined. 

Recari has no regrets about the decision, since she wanted to make sure she’d be known first as a champion golfer rather than a golfer in a swimsuit. A victory at the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge last fall went a long way in helping that image.

Now she’s looking to win her second title this week in Phoenix so that she can bring funding and national awareness to The Alliance, an organization based out of West Palm Beach, Fla. 

“It happens to more people than you know,” Recari said.

“If I can help one person, that’s good enough for me.”

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