England players Lily May Humphreys and Joe Pagdin have just represented Team GB in the Youth Olympics in Argentina.
They didn’t figure in the medals but both had the experience of a lifetime, competing in individual and team events, and they reflect on it here.
Humphreys, 16, from Stoke by Nayland Golf Club in Essex, is one of England’s youngest ever Curtis Cup players and is a multiple winner. This year she became the Scottish women’s open amateur champion and last year she won English, British and European titles and also had her first victory in the USA.
Pagdin, 16, hails from Sheffield, Yorkshire, but is based at Lake Nona in Florida, where he competes successfully. He was a semi-finalist at the British Boys’ Championship, was in England’s winning teams at the Boys’ Home Internationals of 2017 and 2018 and helped GB&I beat continental Europe to win the Jacques Leglise Trophy.
Here’s what they had to say:
Joe Pagdin, pictured top
This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my career and living in this village for the last two weeks is an amazing opportunity. It’s definitely a big learning curve being here with all the different athletes from the different countries. You learn a huge amount about sport, languages, cultures as well as what an Olympics is like.
I feel like anyone who competes at these Games, and whether you compete badly or well, it’s an experience that you won’t forget and I really enjoyed my time here. This has taught me a lot being out here I hope that can help me get to the next level.
Unfortunately the golf wasn’t the greatest for me.
This field has been really strong. There are five or six kids ranked in the top 100 in the world in this event and it was highly ranked. Compared to a lot of international events I play this was right up there in terms of the strength of the competition.
I compete with a lot of these guys on a weekly basis. We’re always beating each other each week and it’s just who can get an edge at any event.
I think golf had a real place at an Olympic Games. It’s an individual sport but at the Games they can make more of a team event.
I think golf has a real future in the Games. You look at how well it was supported in Rio and also here in Argentina.
I’m just finishing up High School now and I’ve committed to the University of Florida for golf so I’ll be going there in 2020 for four years. I’m still taking it one day at a time and working out my game but the overall goal it to become a professional golfer.
To be part of the senior Olympics would be a dream come true. To compete at that level and be an Olympian not only means you’re a good golfer but you’ve achieved a lot in your career. That’s obviously some way off in my career but it would be a cool story to compete in the Youth Olympics and then the senior Olympics.
Watching Justin Rose win it was a motivational moment for a lot of people and I know a lot of the other players really embraced it.
I started played golf was I was about eight, growing up in the US but am originally from Sheffield where we still have a lot of family. I met Ian Poulter in a sandwich shop and started talking to him when I was seven in 2006. After that I just wanted to become a golfer and now we live in the same area and our families are great friends. He’s my idol and supports me with my game.
Lily May Humphreys, pictured below
I was really nervous on day one. It was a different experience for me as you’re representing Great Britain in a strokeplay event at the Youth Olympics, so it’s not something I’m used to.
It was a tough few days out on the course as it was playing really difficult in the wind and you had to fight your way through, but I felt I improved each day in the competition.
I knew what to expect from the course going into the team event. There was no wind and the course was playing easy, but I knew I had to focus on the team event and not take things for granted.
I really enjoyed the team event – I’m not normally used to playing in them. Going into it, we knew that bogeys weren’t horrendous for us, but we had to stay consistent and keep the pars and birdies coming. We both played well over the competition – you’re always going to have bad holes but it was still pretty solid. It was disappointing that we weren’t in contention for a medal though.
I’ve really enjoyed the Youth Olympic experience, especially living in the village with all the different countries and athletes and learning about other sports and how they train on a day to day basis. I’ve learnt how they train differently with all the different gym work they do and how often they train.
The hope is to turn professional and compete in the senior Olympics one day.