Stephanie Meadow’s third place finish at the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst may well go down in history as the finest performance by any Irish golfer on professional debut.
The 22-year-old carded a final round 69 to finish the major on one over par, three shots behind eventual winner, Michelle Wie.
To try and put the whole thing into some type of context, it’s worth noting that only Wie finished the tournament under par, a measure of just how difficult the course was playing. In fact,
Stephanie’s display ranks impressively against the men. Tiger Woods made his professional debut in August 1996 at the Greater Milwaukee Open tying for 60th place while Rory McIlroy, finished tied for 42nd on his pro debut at the Quinn Direct British Masters in September 2007.
“It’s been amazing. I couldn’t have pictured a better way to start my professional career. It’s pretty much a dream come true,” said Stephanie.
“Everyone wants to win. But I was just trying to take it one shot at a time.
“Out here you can’t get too aggressive because aggressive plays are going to end in doubles.
“As much as you want it you have to kind of say, all right, 20 feet right is good.
“I always believed that I could do it (contend in a major).
“Honestly, the amount of hours that I’ve put in, that’s what I’ve been working for. So to see all that pay off was really amazing.
“But to do it on my first week and to have enough confidence to keep going, I’m proud of myself for doing that.”
Originally from Jordanstown, the Meadow family upped sticks and moved to America some eight years ago specifically to help Stephanie’s progression as a golfer.
An Irish amateur representative from an early age, she flourished playing for the University of Alabama, winning numerous individual honours and going on to represent GB&I in two Curtis Cups.
“This whole experience is only going to make me work harder,” she added.
“Obviously, I didn’t win, there’s still people beating me and I’m competitive, so I want to try and win Majors some day,
“So I’m going to go back and work hard. If you’re a competitive person, this is a driving force, you do well and you want more.
“So that’s what I’m going to do,” added Stephanie who insisted she was ‘Northern Irish’ at heart.
Stephanie only officially turned professional last Sunday with no guarantee of regular starting berths on the LPGA circuit but the outlook has changed significantly following her efforts at Pinehurst.
By finishing third, she earned earned $271,373 and moved up 506 places to 113 on the world rankings, it should mean that she receives invites into a number of events.
She continued; “I mean this is the biggest stage in golf it’s the U.S. Open.
“But I wasn’t really thinking about that. I just came out here and this is what I’ve dreamed of for so long to turn pro, to start at a U.S. Open, it’s great.
“My schedule is just kind of up in the air. Obviously I don’t have any status as of yet, so I just have to wait and see.
“I know I’m in one Symmetra Tour event, I’ll probably try and Monday qualify for the rest of the year.”