Golf starlet poised for day on world stage

03/06/2013

Manchester golf starlet Katie-Jane Stanley will be a fledgling among some of the most seasoned top players in the world at this week’s ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship – but the Failsworth teenager will not be far from fazed by the field.

The 14-year-old rising star will be partnering Smyth at the event at De Vere Mottram Hall.

The teenager, who names Tiger Woods among her favourite players, was ranked 14th in the country at last year’s English Under-13s competition, and is going from strength-to-strength under the tuition of England coaches Steve Robinson and Pat Smiley, having joined England’s Year Two North Birdies Squad

According to her mother, Michelle, the youngster is excited, rather than intimidated, by the opportunity to play alongside a former Ryder Cup competitor on Wednesday.

“She’s really looking forward to it,” said Michelle. “She takes it all in her stride, she just goes out and plays.”

As well as playing at Manchester Golf Club, she has also just joined Royal Birkdale, which has hosted the Open Championship on nine occasions.

Katie-Jane was invited to join and then interviewed, an experience that her mother admits was a nerve-wracking one for the teen.

“She was nervous but she did very well,” said Michelle. “It’s a very tough course so she was honoured to have been accepted.”

But the youngster is used to high demands, having played at an impressive level for some time. She gained her first handicap at the age of just 10 – a 31.

Four years on, she now plays off five, having been helped along the way with sponsorship from JLG UK Industries.

She was only five years old when she picked up her first golf club, taking a trip to the driving range with her father Lee, who was formerly a member at Manchester Golf Club. But her mother admits that it wasn’t clear to them straight away that she had a particular aptitude for the sport.

“Nobody ever told us she was good at it, so we didn’t know that,” added Michelle. “She just kept going down to the driving range. I couldn’t tell you what makes her so good.”

That changed soon enough though, as Katie-Jane began to impress in competitions such as ‘Talent Hunt,’ which scoured the North West of England for budding golf talent back in 2008.

The then nine-year-old emerged victorious and has continued to excel since, though she has to fit golf in around her studies at Failsworth Sports College.

Kate-Jane earned her place in the pro-am following a competition with PGA Seniors Championship media partner the Manchester Evening News.

In addition to playing in the pro-am, Katie-Jane has also won golf equipment, lessons with the Mottram Hall PGA Professional, an overnight stay at Mottram Hall for herself and her parents plus hospitality tickets to the tournament.

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