Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Stephanie joins Rory McIlroy in Ireland Olympic choice

New deal: Stephanie will now promote Callaway gear

Jordanstown girl Stephanie Meadow made it another eventful weekend despite missing the cut in the Womens British Open, won by Mo Martin, at Royal Birkdale.

The United States based 22 year old announced on Saturday that Ireland will be her country of choice, if selected, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Former British Amateur champion Meadow said on Twitter: "I have decided to join Rory McIlroy in representing Ireland in the Olympics. Early decision but had a deadline to choose."

Meadow has the same GB or Ireland option as McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, but has chosen the latter, her early development being overseen by the Irish Ladies Golfing Union before her move to Alabama University in her teens.

Ireland also offers her a better chance of living the Olympic dream.

By the time Rio comes around, however, Meadow's stock is certain to have risen.

In a sensational start to her professional career, she banked £160,000 from a third place finish at the US Women's Open at Pinehurst last month followed by joint-third at the European Masters, thanks to a course record-equalling 63 at Buckinghamshire.

However, she missed the cut last week at Royal Birkdale.

At the Olympics, there will be men's and women's individual 72-hole strokeplay tournaments, with 60 players in each. Golf is being played at the Games for the first time since 1904.

Meadow's meteoric rise has also landed her a lucrative sponsorship deal with top manufacturer Callaway. As a Staff Pro, she'll officially play Callaway equipment, wear Callaway apparel and use a Callaway Staff Bag.

At Royal Birkdale, American Mo Martin won the Women's British Open in stunning fashion, firing an eagle on the 72nd hole to finish a shot ahead of Norway's Suzann Pettersen and China's Shanshan Feng.

Martin's approach to the 18th ran into the flag and finished six feet from the hole to set up a closing round of 72 in windy conditions at Royal Birkdale.

"The second shot is one I'm going to remember. I actually heard it hit the flag and said 'Oh my God"' said Martin, who had recorded just one top-10 finish in 63 previous LPGA starts.

"This was a full three wood. I was off a little bit of a left-to-right lie, which let it feed. At this point, I'm saying 'sit.' And then I said 'go.' And then I said 'I don't know what else to say."'

Martin had to wait for an hour to see if any of the later starters could match her total of one under par, but Feng and Pettersen both shot 75, although Pettersen did finish with birdies on the 17th and 18th.

"Is this real life?" Martin added when told that she had won. "It was a tough day of golf today. It was very windy and this course is very challenging. So I stayed patient and I fortunately played some really good golf."

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