Play-off agony for tearful golfer Stephanie Meadow but she'll be back
Golfer Stephanie Meadow has been left devastated after an opponent's incredible luck denied her a coveted place in next season's Ladies' PGA Tour in America - as well as the chance to win millions of dollars in prize money.
But one of her former coaches says the rising star will bounce back and be more determined than ever to be the best.
Jordanstown golfer Meadow was locked in a marathon 11-hole tie-breaker in a qualifying tournament in Florida.
At stake was a full LPGA membership, allowing the 22-year-old to tee off in many of next year's tour events.
However, success was not part of the script.
Her opponent, the American Karlin Beck, holed a spectacular 75-foot chip to secure the prize and dash Stephanie's dreams. Choking back the tears, an inconsolable Stephanie summed up her luck: "It sucks."
She added: "I didn't play bad, I probably had the opportunities... but just didn't make anything of them.
"I'm still proud to be an LPGA tour member, it's good but not what I wanted."
Billy Millar - a member of Ballyclare Golf Club where Stephanie is an honorary member - said the gifted young player will make a comeback. The hypnotherapist helped Stephanie with mental preparation and focus between the ages of 11 and 14 before she set off for the States.
Billy said the starlet was still destined for great success.
"She is the most strong-willed and determined person I know, she will bounce back, I have absolutely no doubt," he said.
"She will be fine."
Billy was once refused a bet by a bookmaker on Stephanie winning a major tournament at the age of 25.
He added: "People think she came from nowhere until she arrived in America, but she has a sparkling CV.
"She has an incredible amateur record, fantastic academic achievements and is a talented pianist.
"The LPGA know the talent she is and they will look after her."
Story so far
Stephanie Meadow has been a rising star in golf, leading to favourable comparisons with the current world number one and Holywood man Rory McIlroy. She broke records as an amateur in Irish golf before her move to America. Awarded a fully paid scholarship at the University of Alabama, she turned professional this year. The Jordanstown girl earned widespread acclaim after she tied for third at the US Open, her first professional tournament. She also has a masters degree in accountancy and is a talented pianist.