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Meet Vicky Tomko: the quintessential European

The 23-year-old has an interesting and truly international background. Born in Herrenberg, Germany, she grew up in Belgium, where she lives today in the small village of Lontzen close to the border with Germany and the Netherlands.

She is the daughter of Slovakians Michal and Marianna Cmelik Tomko and has represented Slovakia for the past four years.

Prior to that, Tomko spent six years studying in the United States. She graduated from Bradenton Academy Prep in Bradenton, Florida, while training at the IMG Academy and then completed a degree in interpersonal-organisational communication at the University of Central Florida in Orlando (UCF).

As a consequence of her travels, she speaks five languages and explained: “At my house I speak Slovak, since I grew up in Germany, German; English since I went to school in the States. My French isn’t perfect but I’m dating a Portuguese guy so I’m learning Portuguese. I really feel European and I’m really glad to be back.”

An established junior player, she was a member of the Belgian National Team and at the age of 11, had the opportunity to play with Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros as a result of winning a short game contest in Belgium.

Whilst in the States at the Leadbetter Academy, she finished runner-up at the 2006 Doral-Publix Championship and runner-up at the Teens of the Greens World Championship. She registered more than a dozen top-five tournament finishes during junior competition.

During her time at university, she returned to her parent’s home country, which led to her representing Slovakia.

“Just for fun I tried out a tournament in Slovakia because my parents are Slovak and back in the day we used to go there skiing there. Since I started playing golf we never went back there. We went for fun to play the Slovak Amateur and I won. It was a very fun atmosphere I’ve never been around Slovak young people too much and I really liked the atmosphere. It was friendly and fun,” Tomko said.

“They proposed if I wanted to play for them, because they needed some representatives and I represented them for three or four years. They took me to the World Amateurs in Sydney in 2008 and to Argentina last year. I got a couple of wildcards and played the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open last year and this year so it was fun to play for Slovakia too. I won the Slovak Amateur three times, the international title and once I got Slovak citizenship too, the national three times.”

Tomko has resided primarily in Lontzen, Belgium, for 15 years, but spent time in the United States.

“I was 16 when I went to the Leadbetter Academy in Sarasota. The first year I really loved it and went back for the next year in 2005/2006 and played a bunch of junior events. I didn’t plan to go to college. I didn’t know anything about the system but went there to improve my English and golf. In the senior year of high school I got a couple of offers and UCF was the best: 100 per cent scholarship.

“I must say I went quite downhill in the States. I didn’t have a good coach and I lost it somewhat. After university I wasn’t sure since my golf wasn’t there but now I’m working with a new coach I’ve seen a lot of improvement and I know that I want to do this.

“When I came home in May 2010, I got a new coach near to Brussels, an English guy called Carl Ledbury, and it takes me one hour and 20 to drive to see him every week. I improved a lot under him.”

Tomko turned professional in March and added: “I’m playing all the LETAS events and hope to get in to a few LET events. I will prepare for LET Q-School in January. I want to play on the LET next year. I went last year but I wasn’t ready.

“This year that’s the goal: to be ready. I saw that you need to have a good caddie and be ready. It’s a war out there. The atmosphere is crazy.

“It’s difficult for me, since I’m not on Tour, to play events. This year I played Portugal and Slovakia and the two Access Series events. All summer I played one event: the Belgian Championship and I played very well. I was the best pro there.

“It’s hard to stay competitive. I played Terre Blanche and La Nivelle and made my first cut. It’s a good experience and my first year as a pro. Teeing off in Portugal and Slovakia I was really nervous and every tournament I feel more comfortable.”

She was inspired by watching Zuzana Kamasova make history as the first Slovakian winner on the LET when she won the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco in March, with no full card on the LET.

“It was definitely an inspiration seeing her win because she has been trying for so many years. It really gave me a boost and showed that you have to keep trying and trying and some day it will click. I know her, but not too well since I live in Belgium.”

Aside from golf, Tomko’s hobbies include going to the gym and she said: “I am obsessed with fitness, good food. I used to run every single day but I started getting some issues with my hips and pelvis. I lift a lot too to get stronger and hit the ball better. I feel better about myself and enjoy working out.”

Her next appearance on the LETAS will be at the Murcia Ladies Open in November, before she heads back to La Manga Club in Spain for LET Qualifying School in January 2012.

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