San­jay stars against the world’s best

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Classifieds - by JAMES WEST­GATE

MOST nine year-olds would be filled with dread at the thought of pit­ting their golf game against the best young play­ers in the world.

In fact most play­ers of any age would baulk at the prospect of putting their game un­der such mas­sive pres­sure. But not city sharp-shooter San­jay Nithiyalingam.

San­jay is the lat­est young tal­ent to emerge from the bur­geon­ing lo­cal scene and the Hampton young­ster - still barely knee-high to a grasshop­per - is al­ready mak­ing some se­ri­ous waves.

At the US Kids Euro­pean Golf Cham­pi­onship in Scot­land last week­end, San­jay dealt with mas­sive pres­sure to bag a top 20 fin­ish in his first taste of top flight in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

And de­spite hav­ing never played links golf be­fore, the young Burgh­ley Park star, who plays off 24, is clearly ea­ger for more, even if he found the go­ing a lit­tle tougher than ex­pected at Gul­lane in East Loth­ian.

He said: “It was my first ex­pe­ri­ence of this kind of com­pe­ti­tion and it was very tough but also a lot of fun and I got the chance to make friends with kids from across the world which was great.

“The stan­dard was very high and play­ing on a links course for the first time was tough but I think I did okay.”

In fact San­jay’s form over the first 18 holes was noth­ing short of phe­nom­e­nal as he tamed the wild Scot­tish links with a crack­ing open­ing round of 78 to leave him third over­all.

Sadly the wind played havoc on round two and Nithiyalingam - who had his dad Babu as caddy for the event - tum­bled down the leader­board af­ter an 89 but was still in with a shout of a top 10 fin­ish with a good fi­nal round.

He added: “My aim was to get in the top ten and it was go­ing bril­liantly un­til the 17th hole where I blew up a bit.

“The 18th was not much bet­ter ei­ther and I ended with an 86 and 16th place over­all but I was not dis­ap­pointed.

“It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and we were all treated like pro­fes­sion­als so I am re­ally look­ing for- ward to next year.

“I think me and dad learnt a lot and I picked up a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence about shot se­lec­tion, course man­age­ment and han­dling pres­sure.

“Hope­fully I can build on what I achieved and play well at the Burgh­ley Ju­nior Cham­pi­onsh­hips as well as on the Bri­tish Ju­nior Tour over the next few months. The more big events I play the bet­ter I will be­come at han­dling ev­ery­thing that goes with it.”

GREAT EF­FORT: San­jay Nithiyalingam fin­ished in the top 20 in the big US Kids Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship.

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