Royal Portrush provided rich learning ground for Olympic golfer Meadow

Congratulations to Irish Olympian golfer Stephanie Meadow who finished in seventh place in Rio.

From Antrim, Meadow is a graduate of the University of Alabama golf programme. She burst onto the scene with a spectacular third place finish at the 2014 US Women’s Open in Pinehurst.

She finished a brilliant seventh in the Olympics after a closing 66, with fellow Irish woman Leona Maguire tied 23rd as world No 1 Nelly Korda claimed Olympic gold in a heart-stopping finale to the Women’s Individual Stroke Play.

It was a super performance for the Irish duo as Maguire, tipped as Ireland’s best hope of a medal, roared home in 32 and fired a 71 to share 23rd on five under.

Meadow went closest to a medal, knocking in an 18 footer for par at the 18th for a bogey-free 66 at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

According to the Independent newspaper, “that she finished on 12-under was an amazing feat considering she had to make a 25 footer for par on the 12th hole of her opening round to avoid slipping to four-over-par.”

Royal Portrush

Though based in the US, Meadow is still a regular visitor to Royal Portrush, where she remains a member, and to Ballyclare Golf Club, where it all began for her as she took up the game at the age of just 7.

Meadow’s appetite for the game was evident from her formative years at Ballyclare – the Belfast Telegraph newspaper reported in a profile that she would turn up at the course to practice from 6.30am. Her father Robert would wait patiently in the pro shop waiting for her to finish to drive her to school.

She joined Royal Portrush Ladies at the age of 10, guided by an early mentor, Margaret Baird, who is a member of both clubs. It was a practical move because being a member at Portrush would enable her to play pretty much all year round, not always an option at the east Antrim parkland course. It also allowed her to learn the vagaries of links play.

The strength of Meadow’s game – apart from her ability to keep a calm head – is in her short game, honed around the greens of Royal Portrush as a teenager.

Despite Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry being both well placed to mount a medal challenge ahead of the final round at Kasumigaseki Country Club, it was not to be for either.

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Photograph: Golf Ireland Official Instagram

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