She may only be 15 but young Lurgan golfer Annabel Wilson is continuing the take the sport by storm after finishing in the top ten at a European competition.
Wilson, who attends St Ronan’s College, placed sixth out of 54 entrants at the European Young Masters in Switzerland earlier this month, 15 rankings higher than at the same competition in 2015.
Her result caps off a remarkable year of golf in which Annabel has seen marked improvements in her game, boosting her confidence on the course no end.
And while she admits she couldn’t be happier with her progression over the last year, she insists the best is yet to come.
“It was a solid result,” said Annabel, who benefits from being part of the SSE Next Generation scheme. “I played really nicely, I was more than happy with the result and it’s helped show lots of progression I’ve made over the past year.
“I’ve got a fortunate birthday so I can play at this level of competition again next year, and this can hopefully be a fantastic springboard for that.
“I had two steady top-20 finishes before Switzerland so confidence was high, I’d played with the best and knew what I had to be performing like to get up to the top in Europe.
“I came 21st last year, so it’s a big improvement on that. I’ve become a lot more consistent, my putting has got a lot better, getting a lot more birdies and that’s given me a lot more confidence on the course.
“That’s hugely important, particularly in golf, you need to be on top of your game, striking the ball well and having that belief in yourself.
“It means that if you go into a competition or a course you haven’t played on before then you can go into knowing you’re playing well, that your swing is right and you’re taking chances when you get them on the green.”
Annabel, who plays her club golf for Lurgan Ladies, also represents Ireland on the international stage, and will tee off at August’s Home Internationals against England, Scotland and Wales.
And with golf making its first appearance at the Olympic Games since 1904 in Rio next month, Wilson admits she couldn’t be prouder to be playing for her country.
“The chance to represent Ireland is amazing, it’ll be my third Home Internationals and it’s always really exciting to play for your country,” she said.
“We came second the last two years, so hopefully this year we can go one better. Having that experience from before is going to be massively important, you feel more comfortable and that more often than not leads to better golf.
“Golf is quite an individual sport, so when you play for a team it’s all about that team spirit, everybody needs to be confident, and I’m feeling in a good position for the matchplay.
“Golf is going to be in the Olympics too which is hugely exciting, it’s never been there so it will be great to see how it gets on, and it will be great to cheer on Ireland too.”
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen