WorldIyene Essien: Is this Nigerian teen the next women's golf prodigy?

Iyene Essien: Is this Nigerian teen the next women’s golf prodigy?

“(My father) was fairly stunned by my query,” she mentioned. “He requested me if I actually wished to play this sport and I mentioned, ‘sure,’ and he bought me a coach and I began taking part in golf.”

The remainder was historical past.

Essien entered her first competitors the identical yr and proved to be a pure, inserting first in her age group. “I discovered that basically cool,” she mentioned.

By age 11, the golfer was representing Nigeria at worldwide competitions throughout the US, UK, and Africa together with Morocco, Botswana, and South Africa. Now 16, she is the No.1 ranked junior ladies’ golfer in Nigeria and has received greater than a dozen trophies after inserting in varied competitions.
Essien represented Nigeria at the R&A Junior Open in Monifieth, Scotland.

“I am actually pleased with representing my nation as a result of I am making a reputation for myself and for my nation,” she mentioned.

In late July, Essien clinched second place within the Beneath 19 Women division on the Champion of Champions World Championship in Northern Eire. “It was a very good expertise for me,” she mentioned. Ending 5 strokes behind first, Essein says she is pleased with how she performed.

“All the things occurs for a cause — despite the fact that you come second or third, it implies that you are getting nearer and nearer to first,” she mentioned, noting the expertise of taking part in on a world-renowned course was a win in itself. “The truth that I may play on the identical course as Rory Mcllroy performed on and be in the identical neighborhood of all that historical past was actually essential to me.”

As she continues to make a reputation for herself and her nation, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari is taking discover. Following the event, the president’s adviser launched a press release saying Buhari, “joins all Nigerians in celebrating this nice teenager who’s doing a lot for the nation.”

“It was actually sudden, and I recognize it,” Essien advised CNN in response.

Following her desires

Time and time once more, Essien has confirmed she is not afraid of a problem. Whereas she typically finds herself competing towards older gamers, she says it really “offers me much more motivation simply to do higher.”

She says her positivity and drive is impressed by one in every of her best function fashions, Tiger Woods.

“He has proven a whole lot of resilience within the recreation,” she mentioned, noting his efforts to push by a sequence of accidents and profession setbacks. “He simply retains taking part in golf and he actually loves the game, despite the fact that he is not successful.”

Essien is just not the primary Nigerian golfer to need to look elsewhere for function fashions. Georgia Ohoh, the primary Nigerian to play within the Women European Tour, beforehand advised CNN she needed to flip to tennis to search out inspirational athletes.
That is partly as a result of golf is way from the preferred sport in Nigeria. In keeping with the Nigerian Golf Federation, there are solely 58 courses within the nation. In 2012, it was estimated there have been solely about 200,000 golfers out of a inhabitants of than 200 million individuals (by comparability, greater than 25 million People performed golf that very same yr).

Essien says the absence of a extra established {golfing} program has been difficult, notably in relation to financing.

She says her household has been “instrumental” in funding her profession, however it’s been a “battle” and believes, “if I had an enormous pot to work with, I’d have finished extra competitions through the years than I did and received extra trophies.”

Desirous to pursue extra alternatives, Essien, who was born within the state of New York however raised in Nigeria, moved again to the US in 2021 to enroll within the Taft College in Watertown, Connecticut.

Essien attended the British Open to watch her role model, Tiger Woods, compete in the tournament.

“The competitors is excessive (within the US),” Essien mentioned. On a median day, {the teenager} says she usually practices for 3 hours after class, and it may be troublesome to navigate the fragile dance between pursuing an expert profession and being an “common” teen.

“Typically I really actually need to go hang around my associates and simply calm down and be a young person principally. However there are additionally priorities. I’ve to keep in mind that if I need to be in the next place in golf or at school then I’ve to place within the time within the work,” she mentioned.

Inspiring the subsequent technology

Along with turning into a golf professional, Essien needs to pursue a level in engineering with a specialization in synthetic intelligence.

“I hope to get a golf scholarship to a (prime) college… and if it turns into potential, I hope to play within the LPGA,” she mentioned.

With a budding profession forward, she additionally hopes to pave the best way for different Nigerians for comply with in her footsteps.

“I hope my achievements and the place I’m proper now in golf can really inspire Nigerians who need to play golf,” she mentioned, leaving aspiring golfers with this piece of recommendation: “work onerous and preserve a superb mentality as a result of all the pieces occurs for a cause and in due time, all the pieces will go your means.”

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