Young golfer’s tal­ent turns heads

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

From Pine­hurst to Ti­tahi Bay – Jay­den Ford has packed a lot of golf into his seven years.

The bud­ding golfer from As­cot Park has a swing many of his el­ders would kill for and he is putting it to good use. Last year was his first taste of play­ing in a ‘‘ pro­fes­sional’’ tour­na­ment, com­ing 19th in the Call­away Ju­nior World Golf Tour­na­ment event in San Diego, which at­tracts golfers from all over the world.

This year, at the kids’ course at Pine­hurst, North Carolina, Ford fared even bet­ter in the ul­tra­com­pet­i­tive US Kids World Cham­pi­onships, fin­ish­ing 8th out of 85 en­trants. The re­sult au­to­mat­i­cally qual­i­fies him for the 2012 tour­na­ment, which may be held in Auck­land.

The fam­ily got back early last month from their trip to the United States, where Ford played two other tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing the Call­away event again, com­ing 52nd over­all (12th among sev­enyear-olds).

With his own high stan­dards at stake, he says he was not that happy with 8th in the US Kids event, a few bo­geys ru­in­ing his par-laden 27 holes. He fin­ished three over, 10 shots shy of the win­ner with scores of 36, 39 and 39.

‘‘It could have been bet­ter; my goal was top 10 but as I went on I thought ‘I can fin­ish higher’.’’

There were ‘‘easy and hard’’ holes but his per­sonal high­light was knock­ing a 5-iron shot to within 10 feet of the pin on one of the par threes.

The tour­na­ment was an eye­opener for his par­ents Izzy and Glynn, the lat­ter cad­dy­ing for Ford. Some of the other play­ers had pro­fes­sional cad­dies, swing coaches and ‘‘ quite pushy par­ents’’, Izzy says.

All the cour­ses were im­mac­u­late. Play­ing at Pine­hurst (the kids’ course is called Mid Pines), was spe­cial, Ford says, with a wall ded­i­cated to Michael Camp­bell’s US Open win there in 2005 com­pul­sory view­ing.

Fundrais­ing was vi­tal and the fam­ily is ex­tremely grate­ful for the sup­port they re­ceived from sev­eral quar­ters as Ford con­tin­ues to chase his dream. Stevens Mo­tors pro­vided re­turn flights to LA.

Next up is the club champs later this month and plenty of com­pe­ti­tion play this sum­mer. Ford aims to get his hand­i­cap down to the ‘‘low 20s’’ by the end of this year.

‘‘I wish I could just play ev­ery day. All I want to do is play golf.’’

Mak­ing his mark: Jay­den Ford, with the sil­ver plate com­mem­o­rat­ing his 8th place at Mid Pines. He is a nor­mal, grounded seven-year-old who has the pas­sion and de­sire to go far in his sport.

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