Northern Ireland’s Olivia Mehaffey says she feels “ready” to compete with golf’s best as she gets ready to return to competitive action.
County Down amateur Mehaffey will contest in back-to-back majors at the AIG Women’s Open later this month and the ANA Inspiration in September.
And while the coronavirus pandemic has delayed her plans to turn professional, the two-time Curtis Cup player is confident going into a couple of big weeks.
“I feel like I’m ready to go there and compete,” she said.
“I’ve played in three or four majors so I feel like I’m past just trying to enjoy the experience. It would be great to get out there and feel competitive with the professionals.”
Mehaffey has qualified for the Women’s Open at Royal Troon – where she won the Scottish Open Amateur in 2015 – as the highest-ranked Great Britain and Ireland amateur, while she received a sponsor’s invitation to the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in California.
The 22-year-old had planned to compete in the LPGA Qualifying School this summer, which was scheduled to take place across three stages in California, Florida and North Carolina from August until September, before the coronavirus pandemic led to major changes in the golfing calendar.
And while Mehaffey admits that a delay in turning professional is frustrating, she is excited to return to Arizona State University and study for a master’s degree in organisational leadership.
“It’s pushed everything back about a year for me,” said the world number 17 amateur.
“The plan was to be at Q-School around about now.
“With everything that’s been cancelled, it’s going to be another year, but my plan is to go back to Arizona State, do another year, get my master’s and then hopefully this time next year I’ll be turning pro.
“In the grand scheme, it’s pushed everything back by a year but hopefully that’s not too long in what will hopefully be a long career in professional golf.”
Introducing young girls to golf would be a ‘big win’
Mehaffey, who is aiming to follow in Stephanie Meadow’s footsteps by securing an LPGA Tour card, says she hopes to inspire young women to take up golf in Northern Ireland and place herself alongside the country’s golfing role models such as Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
“Winning a major is top of the list for me,” she said.
“We’re so lucky that we have those role models on the male side, so many major winners from such a small island, and it would be great to get my first major win.
“A big thing for me is getting young girls started on junior golf, so to be that role model and get a few more girls interested in the game because of my success would be a huge win for me.
“There have been a lot of great programmes recently by the ILGU (Irish Ladies Golf Union) and I think a lot of clubs are starting to push out for more juniors.
“The more people we can get pushing through the ranks will only help and make things better.”