KirkwoodGolf: Mehaffey tips thriving 2018

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Mehaffey tips thriving 2018

Olivia Mehaffey (RCDL) on her way to winning the
2016 Irish Women’s Close Championship.
(Photo: Pat Cashman Photography)

As the 2018 ILGU High Performance (HP) programme gets under way with a warm weather training trip to Desert Springs Resort in Spain today, Olivia Mehaffey (Royal County Down Ladies) is tipping 2018 to be her best year yet.

Since flying home from the US where she is in the second year of a golf scholarship at Arizona State University Olivia has been in full prep mode, planning for a 2018 that she hopes will include a successful defence of the Curtis Cup with Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) and the NCAA Championships with her college teammates.

A trip to the Almeria resort alongside Paula Grant (Lisburn), Annabel Wilson (Lurgan), Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe), Rachel Thompson (Cork) and Jessica Ross (Clandeboye), is just what Mehaffey needs to warm herself back up before returning to the Arizona sunshine.

The Banbridge golfer was recently named on the 14-player provisional GB&I squad along with three other Irish internationals, Grant, Wilson and the leading amateur player in the world, Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell). Chatting to Paul Kelly of PK Golf Blog she spoke about her thoughts on this year’s upcoming matches.

“I think we will have a really strong team this year,” said Olivia who is currently ranked 13th in the world.

The 40th Curtis Cup match will be played from 8-10 June next year at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in New York. GB&I will be attempting to retain the title after an 11½-8½ win over the US at Dun Laoghaire, Co. Wicklow in 2016.

In preparation, six potential GB&I team members, including Olivia, Leona and Annabel, met up at the venue last month for a bit of reconnaissance.

“It was really nice to get out there and play the course. It means that whoever gets picked on the team has that bit of knowledge which will certainly help,” added Olivia who won 3.5 points on her Curtis Cup debut at Dun Laoghaire.

“It was a typical parkland with greens that were very quick and had plenty of slope.”

The eight-player team will be announced on April 26th this year. The two leading players on the world rankings will automatically make the team, with six players selected by the R&A’s women’s selection committee. Given her impressive individual matchplay record – she won three out of three to help Arizona win the NCAA title last May – it would be something of a shock not to see Olivia make the team but she’s not taking anything for granted which is why she was at Carton House just before Christmas working with coach Donal Scott.

“The game is good. I’m very happy with how I played this semester, I’m just making a few changes,” added the sociology student. “I’m working on some new stuff now to get ready for next year.”

Arizona will be defending their title without the experienced Monica Vaughan (USA), who graduated in the summer and Linnea Strom (Sweden) who will turn professional early in 2018 it’s likely to mean that, as the top-ranked player on the team, more responsibility will fall on Olivia’s shoulders.

“I see myself as a bit of a leader and I think it is a good opportunity to embrace that role.I love playing first in match play. It’s about getting out there and getting some early points on the board. It’s something that I thrive on a bit.

“Losing Monica and Linnea is a big hit because they are both top 10 in the world. We will have to step up as a group. We still have a really great team. Four of the squad remain from last year. It’s exciting, we’ll see what happens.”

The Irish Warm Weather Training Squad are joined by HP Coaches Johnny Foster and Chris Jelly as well as incoming HP Board Director Anne Ferguson. This is the first of two training weeks, with the second taking place from the 13th – 17th of February where the remaining available Funded and Horizon Performance Players will attend alongside Donal Scott, Robbie Cannon and Women’s Team Captain Danielle McVeigh. The ILGU’s HP programme is supported by Sport Ireland.

Full ILGU Performance Panels available HERE