Behind every great athlete is a normal person. A regular human being, someone who likes to have conversations outside of their sport, who enjoys spending time listening to music and binge-watching television series - someone who takes comfort in being present and appreciating life as a precious gift.
LPGA Tour player Maria Torres who became the first female professional golfer from Puerto Rico is a 26-year-old who enjoys being her “real” self, which involves driving her car “insanely,” as she calls it even with her mom, who is her closest friend, beside her. Also it involves cleaning her room because “it’s New Year’s and bad luck otherwise,” and following superstitions to the point of almost failing to qualify for the LPGA Tour.
“The craziest (moment) I think was in Qualifying School (Q-School). So, the last day of Q-School, I couldn’t find my parking spot. We had like five rounds, and the first four rounds, I parked in the same spot. But when I got to my last day, I couldn’t find my spot. I was so mad, but I was like ‘It’s going to be a good day, blah, blah,” said Torres. “I didn’t play that well. I think you had to be top 10, but I was top 20. I had to go into a playoff with two players for the final spot. So, before the aggregate playoff, I asked the rules official to take me to my car. And I moved my car to my spot.
“Not a lot of people know that story. (The rules official) dropped me off, but he didn’t know why I was there. Then I went to the playoff and those three holes, I was not nervous at all because of the car.”
Now, four years later, Torres is thriving. She had season-best finishes of T11 at the 2020 ANA Inspiration and T9 at the 2020 Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana. Still, she is her “crazy” self, managing her superstitions while reading horoscopes for fun.
“I know it’s crazy but I’ve been like that since I was little,” Torres said. “During New Year’s, I try to do all of the things that you have to do, like wear the colors and all of the superstitious stuff. Your room has to be clean. My room isn’t messy, don’t get me wrong. But everything has to be in order. It’s like you start fresh.
“I like reading horoscopes, too. I’m a Sagittarius. I like that stuff.”
Her vibrant personality and good play has led to recent partnerships with Honda Motor Company, First Bank of Puerto Rico, Bella Group, On Running, Universal Group Inc., Titleist, and Callaway Golf, all of whom Torres works hard to represent. On her social media page, where she recently posted a photo with the caption: “This new year, part of my resolutions are to show a little bit more of who is Marife... not Maria Fernanda the LPGA player, but the person behind such a distinguished title. Something I've learned throughout the years is that the best way to live is having a good 𝗕𝗔𝗟𝗔𝗡𝗖𝗘 in life and that's where I'm currently at; looking to find that balance between working hard to be the best player I can be and enjoying my life with my family and friends while doing the things I love. I hope you accompany me through this journey where GOLF will always be a priority but I'll also show you the other side of me besides sports.”
“I want my sponsors to, if they go into social media, they are like ‘Okay, this is a person that I know as a person,” Torres said. “This is the player that I know that we represent. And I want to be grateful for them, too. I’m trying my best to represent their brand. I want to be grateful and show a little bit of me at the golf course that you cannot usually see.
“This isn’t stuff to brag about. This is us trying to be ourselves and be grateful. That’s a part of what I have in mind. To be grateful and be ourselves. The fans are not with me every day, so they cannot experience the interesting and crazy stuff, but hopefully I can give a little bit. Through social media, maybe they [fans] can live with you.”
Since that post on January 18, Torres has been following through on her promise to show a bit more of Maria Torres the person rather than as Maria Torres the golfer.
“People have always known me as playing golf and they ask me everything about golf,” she said. “I like it, it’s awesome. They are getting your perspective on the sport. But I'm a person, too. I want to show people that I can talk about other stuff. I'm determined and I'm committed to my sport. But you know you can talk to me about other stuff, too.”