Maggie Whitehead displayed talent and maturity of thought way beyond her tender age of 14 at last week’s Rose Ladies Series event.
With three holes to play in tough conditions at the Berkshire Golf Club, the Durham golfer found herself LEADING the professional event – her first-ever competition at this level.
The England Golf girls’ team member was in dreamland as the early-season hard work with the national squad paid immediate dividends.
Even though dropped shots in the final few holes saw her finish two shots adrift of the play-off and in a tie for sixth, there was little the teenager would change about her debut at this level.
In fact, there were only positives to take from the event which has set her up perfectly for the amateur competitions she will face in the months ahead.
“I really enjoyed it. It was a privilege to be there in the first place,” admitted Maggie after joining up with the girls’ squad at Woodhall Spa over the weekend.
“I was really excited in the lead-up. It was a surprise when I found out I was invited, but I enjoyed every minute.
“I didn’t feel any pressure as I didn’t have expectation. I just enjoyed it and played some really good golf in parts.
“I’d do it all again if I had the chance.
“It was about the 13th hole when I first saw a leaderboard and my name was up there in a tie for first.
“At the time I was a bit stunned. It was like a big rush of excitement.
“I knew I was playing well, but I wasn’t keeping track of my score in my head. I was just getting on with it.
“I played 15 knowing I was tied first and although 16 went a little downhill, I didn’t let it affect me too much.
“Even to finish tied sixth at three over par, I wasn’t upset. The conditions were tough.
“I was over the moon when I first saw the leaderboard, but I’m still thrilled to have finished sixth.
“Obviously I’d have liked to have won as I was in the position to do it.
“But I wasn’t fully annoyed.
“I’d have loved to have won and no-one could have taken it away from me.
“Having that first experience in the bag means I can learn from it whenever I need it.”
Maggie’s round of 74 impressed her playing partners – professional and Sky Sports presenter Inci Mehmet, and Rachel Drummond.
In fact, many of the players thought Maggie was ALREADY a pro!
“I’m still only 14 – and it was quite funny,” added Maggie, a member at Close House Golf Club.
“Robert Lee (ex-Tour player and Sky Sports presenter) was caddying for Inci – they were asking me when I turned pro.
“I had to tell them I was still in Year 10!
“They were taken aback at the fact I was 14 – but it’s understandable.
“They were so lovely and really supportive and were asking about my golf.
“After the round they said they wanted to keep in touch and chart my progress and they were lovely with it being my first pro event.
“They helped me – not in sense of golf – but in terms of encouragement and telling me their back story.
“I really enjoyed their company.”
This week, Maggie will join many of the girls’ squad and the UK’s top female amateurs at the St Rule Trophy in St Andrews.
And as she heads to play the renowned New and Old Courses at the Home of Golf, Maggie does so with a spring in her step.
She added: “The feeling of being first is what I’ll take away from the day at the Rose Series.
“I can take it forward to any tournament as hopefully it will happen again.
“To play with these players, understand how they deal with different situations and get an idea of their mindsets was really helpful as I plan for the future.”