GOLF: Olivia unnerved as biggest stage awaits

Olivia Mehaffey in action on day one of GB&I team practice. Pic: Natalie Jones
Olivia Mehaffey in action on day one of GB&I team practice. Pic: Natalie Jones

Scarva girl Olivia Mehaffey is about to tee it up in the biggest event in amateur golf - but nothing’s phasing her.

The 19 year-old is set to play for Great Britain and Ireland at this weekend’s Curtis Cup match against USA - an event which is the amateur ladies’ equalivalent to the Ryder Cup.

It’s Olivia’s debut in the competition - and she’ll have the might of a passionate Irish crowd right behind her. Anywhere up to 20,000 people are expected to descend on County Wicklow’s Dun Laoghaire Golf Club between Friday (10th June) and Sunday (12th June).

That won’t be anything new to Olivia, who showed off her skills in front of a packed house at last month’s BMW Pro-Am at Wentworth alongside ex-Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.

In fact, rather than being a cause for some consternation, which would be perfectly understandable, the scale of the whole thing is acting as something of a motivation for the world number eight.

“I love playing in front of people,” she beamed, breifly taking time out from preparations at Dun Laoghaire. “It just helps to have good crowds, especially having my family, friends and coaches who will be down there supporting.”

Olivia has plenty of big game experience - she has even played for GB&I before at last year’s Junior Solheim Cup. She won two points for the team that week and says that experience is helping to ward off any anxieties.

“I’m not really nervous yet,” she said. “I am really excited more than feeling nervous.

“We’re being treated so well down here. We played a match against the local Senior Cup team and we’ve been busy practicing.

“My game feels in good shape at the minute and I feel like I’m in control.”

Golf is a game usually played as individuals but for Olivia, the chance to experience the team game is one to cherish.

“I love playing team golf,” she said. “This team we have gets on so, so well and that doesn’t always happen. The atmosphere is great.

“I’ve prepared really well so I just can’t wait to get going.”

Weekend tickets for the Curtis Cup are £35 and day tickets are £16 if you want to go down and add more local support for Olivia.