Puerto Rico's Maria Torres leads LPGA effort at charity event

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Puerto Rico's Maria Torres leads LPGA effort at charity event


Puerto Rico's Maria Torres leads LPGA effort at charity event

LPGA rookie Maria Torres finds herself in a unique position to give back. Two months before Torres turned professional, her native Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Last weekend she joined fellow Puerto Rican Rafael Campos as headliners of a charity pro-am that raised over $600,000 for local charities.

The bubbly Torres is an ideal ambassador for the struggling island, with her infectious smile and big heart. The Florida grad said she knows people whose power was returned only two weeks ago. Reports say hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans were without power five months after the storm.

“I couldn’t ask for a better time to be able to let players know about Puerto Rico,” said Torres, “and what we need to get it better.”

The Puerto Rico Open Charity Pro-Am served to replace the Puerto Rico Open, a longstanding PGA Tour event. The official PGA Tour event will return in 2019. Half of the 20 professionals onsite at TPC Dorado Beach were LPGA players, noteworthy given that the women’s tour does not stage a tournament on the island.

“I think it says a lot about how big our heart is,” said participant Cheyenne Woods. “That we do care about these people.”

For rookie Emma Talley, this charity event took on a special meaning because she wasn’t helping to raise money for some faraway place. She was on Puerto Rican soil meeting those who were directly impacted.

“I’m really honored to be a part of it,” Talley said.

The Pineapple Course at TPC Dorado Beach, one of the resort’s three tracks, remains closed. Woods said she was surprised to hear that the island lost over 50 percent of its trees.

Torres, the first Puerto Rican to earn full-status membership on the LPGA, remained there after the event to visit with family and work with her trainers. She was on the island when the hurricane struck in late September and lived with seven members of her family in one room to take advantage of her grandmother’s mini-generator. Eventually, she made her way to Florida to continue training for Q-School.

Torres has made two starts on the LPGA in 2018, making the cut in each. She tied for 31st in her first professional event, the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.

When Torres sees her peers at the LPGA’s first domestic stop in Phoenix, Ariz., next week, she’ll probably still be radiating with gladness at what her new tour family did to help out at home.

“I am so grateful for them coming,” she said. “You have no idea.”


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