Thursday 29, July, 2021

Adam McKendry, Belfast Telegraph

Tandragee’s Olivia Mehaffey admits she’s still learning the ropes as a professional as she prepares to make her LPGA Tour debut on home soil at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm and Massereene this week.

The 23-year-old turned pro earlier this year after a stellar amateur career and has started positively in several minor tour events, including hitting the ground running when she made her Symetra Tour debut at the Carlisle Arizona Golf Classic in March as an amateur, holding a share of the lead after two rounds before finishing sixth.

And, in on a sponsor’s invite this week, the former Arizona State college star is keen to take those learnings and put together a strong performance in front of her home fans in Co Antrim.

“That kind of experience (in Arizona) was very, very key to learn while you’re still an amateur. I think that’s going to pay dividends in the future when hopefully I’m leading some professional events,” said Mehaffey.

“I learnt a lot from that about managing expectations, not getting ahead of yourself, not putting too much pressure on yourself, because you go into a week like that and you’re not thinking about winning and then all of a sudden you’re leading through two rounds and then it does cross your mind.

“Then making my pro debut I did put a lot of pressure on myself and having quite a good amateur CV a lot of people were expecting me to just go out there and same again, you start leading again and obviously things weren’t my best the first few days. I think you learn a lot from that.

“It’s learning these things early on in your career where I feel like those two experiences are going to stand by me for the rest of my career, where I know how to handle leading a professional event and then also I know how to deal with kind of expectations and going into weeks.

“I think those two events are definitely going to stand by me for the rest of my career.”

Mehaffey also revealed she has been aided in taking her first steps as a pro by European Solheim Cup star Carlota Ciganda, a fellow former Sun Devil.

“We have the same coach we both work with, Jorge Parada, and it’s been very nice because obviously we know how he works and she’s been able to help me for me and somebody that I look up to and have for a number of years,” added Mehaffey.