BANGOR’S REBEKAH CHASING THE AMERICAN DREAM

GOLFING star Rebekah Gardner has spoken of her delight at representing Ireland on the world stage.

The Bangor teenager was part of the national squad to tee it up at the World Junior Girls Championship in Ontario, Canada earlier this month and will soon be jetting off stateside to embark on the next stage of her career. “It was an awesome experience,” said Rebekah of her time in Canada. “I have played at the Europeans before in Iceland but this was a great chance to see where I’m at on a global scale; it really opened my eyes to the standard of golf out there,” she added.

Rounds of 74, 76, 78 and 84 on the south course at the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham saw Rebekah finish in a tie for 31st from a field of 50 players, while in the team event, she and her Ireland colleagues were placed 15th. “I’m now on the women’s national squad for the upcoming year which will only motivate me further,” continued the Glenlola Collegiate student, whose short term future is an exciting one to say the least, with a four-year scholarship at the University of Miami awaiting her once she finishes school. “The opportunities in golf are unbelievable,” she said. “It’s not every 18 year-old that gets that sort of chance – to be actually going over there to play golf is something I’m really excited about and I know my family are excited for me too. “Leona Maguire went through the American college system and is now obviously a touring pro and was probably the best player at the Solheim Cup, so she’s someone I definitely look towards.”

It’s not the only sport Rebekah has ever turned her hand to, after she was involved in the Northern Ireland girls’ football setup at under 15 level. “It all started to become a bit much, which is when I chose to make golf my priority,” she explained. I’ve been playing for 11 years now and competitively in Ireland for the last five or six.”

A member of Clandeboye Golf Club, she still enjoys squeezing a round in with the man who made it all happen when time permits. “My dad was a really good player when he was younger and it was him that got me into golf,” said Rebekah. “He used to always beat me but I think nowadays it’s me that beats him more often than not!”