CARLSBAD — Belen Mozo’s story is one that revolves around the themes of fate, family, sacrifice and loneliness.Mozo was 8-years-old when she found the game of golf. She described coming to the game seemingly as a matter of fate, as no one in her family, or any of her friends at the time, played the game.Keeping up the discipline of practicing instead of going out with her friends was also part of the allure of the game.
“I think maybe it was a challenge for me,” she said. “You have to have a lot of personality, like a tough personality and maturity to be able to understand you don’t need to go out…that’s a pretty tough thing and I’m going to say my mother was the one who helped me the most to realize that it was a moment I needed to sacrifice.
“For sure I was young enough to want to go out with my friends but I understood that I needed to stay and practice.”
Hours before she was scheduled to board a flight back home to Spain, Mozo (pronounced Mo-tho) was at the TaylorMade facilities experimenting with the latest technology in golf equipment and getting fitted for new clubs.
Playing with properly sized equipment was just one of the lessons the 23-year-old Spaniard has learned since turning professional in 2010.
“I’m just very messy and lazy and I just didn’t realize that it was such an important factor in playing golf,” she said. “I’ve been playing great golf but not been able to score well and it’s mainly because I didn’t have the right shaft or the right clubs.”
Mozo was able to describe life on the LPGA tour in just one word: “hectic.”
Even though people told her what life would be like on tour, she said people don’t know just how lonely it is.
“I’m a very family oriented person and having my family and boyfriend far away from me and having to do everything on my own, I think is one of the toughest parts,” she said. “Because you literally feel lonely sometimes, that’s why, one of the things I’ve learned is that I needed to have my family close to me, and so I brought my brother with me on the bag.”
Her mom tells of her having the heart of a champion. That’s what she attributes to her drive and motivation to win. “I’m very competitive; I love competing. I understand you cannot always win, but I just love being there. I love grinding it out. If I have to make two steps back to get the next one forward I will do it every time. I understand you have to fall in order to stand up,” she said.
Mozo said she was a very competitive student. She received a scholarship to play at USC, receiving her degree in International Relations.
One of her heroes is tennis star and fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal. “He’s my role in every single aspect from being a human being like he is to a great athlete.”
She has never met him, but is hoping that fate will allow them to meet one day.
The biggest knock down she’s ever had in her life was in 2009 when she spent nine months rehabbing from shoulder surgery. It was filled with tears and tough nights, she said.
“I think I’ve never actually believed that I was going to get injured. So it was something that I faced by myself…I didn’t want to drag my family in because I don’t like the drama and I don’t like them to feel sad for me,” she said.
The injury to her shoulder was caused from having what her doctor told her was “loose shoulders.” She said when she was younger, they would pop out of socket very easily. “Because of the swing repetition, very often, if I wouldn’t play golf, I wouldn’t need the surgery, but it was just one of those things I must do.
“This is not a race, it’s a marathon. I’m learning not to rush into things…you just have to let it happen. If it’s taking you longer it’s because there’s some facets in your life that you need to work on in order to have everything click. I believe there’s a few things that I need to polish in order to become the No. 1 (player) in the world.”
Still, with her brother caddying for her this year, Mozo remains connected to family. The toucan head cover on her driver helps to keep her connected to her boyfriend even while thousands of miles apart.
“My boyfriend, we used to call him the ‘Toucan,’” she said. “I just thought it was really cute if I had the toucan, and he didn’t really quite like it, but I just got stuck with the toucan. I have to change it,” she added.
But Mozo said she was going to keep it for the rest of the year anyway.
Mozo will open the LPGA season in March in Phoenix, playing in the RR Donnelley LPGA Foundation Cup before coming to the La Costa Resort and Spa to compete in the KIA Classic March 22.
Many of the LPGA’s top players have committed to the tournament, including No.3 ranked Cristie Kerr, No. 4 ranked Paula Creamer and No. 12 ranked Michelle Wie.
Three players with local ties, Rancho Santa Fe resident I.K. Kim, Carlsbad High graduate Leta Lindley and Carlsbad resident Jennifer Johnson, are also entered into the tournament.