Posted: 2 weeks ago

MY SPORTING LIFE… every month UTV’s brilliant sports presenter RUTH GORMAN shares the experiences of her sporting life and times

Delighted to win first prize at the Ulster Press Golf Society VP day at Galgorm Castle

WELL I didn’t get to wear my green dress to the Local Women Sports Awards… but I’m still backing Rory to win the Masters one day!

Rory still has two more chances to win a major this year at the US Open this month and The Open Championship in July. 

But as I write this, I’m looking forward to the women’s US Open this week in Pennsylvania. 

Women’s golf is at an all time high and that is definitely helped by the increase in television coverage. I love watching it on TV and, despite her missing the cut, I have to say what Nelly Korda is doing in the game right now is phenomenal. 

At just 25 years old she’s dominating the women’s scene at the moment, winning six of her last seven starts and sitting top of the pile in the world rankings.

A record breaking 12 million dollars total prize purse is available at the US women’s Open, which is another indication of how much the female game has grown.

So what about local interest? Well, Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow was due to play but had to withdraw late due to illness. 

It’s a tournament that will always hold a special place for Stephanie as it was the event where she made her professional debut in back in 2014. She finished an incredible third that year at Pinehurst. 

She had another third in a major, the Women’s PGA Championship last year so she’s always one to watch when she is in the field. Since turning professional in 2014 she’s had two wins, one coming on home soil at the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in 2019. 

There’s a lovely photograph of her hanging on the wall in the ladies locker room at Galgorm Castle and Stephanie is an inspiration to us all. 

Galgorm Castle is one of my favourite golf courses and I have had the privilege of playing in some of the ProAms for those big events, both there and at Clandeboye Golf Club. I remember my first ever ProAm; I hardly slept at all the night before and took the day off beforehand to practise, I was on the golf course from morning until night time and I still felt not ready! As scary as it is thinking about it in the lead up to the event itself, I have thoroughly enjoyed every ProAm I have taken part in and have taken different tips from each of the pros I’ve played alongside. 

Leona Maguire is also one to watch out for at this month’s US Open and PGA Championship at the end of June. It feels like it’s only going to be a matter of time before she wins a major with her talent. The Cavan woman has also enjoyed the World Invitational at Galgorm over the last few years and a beautiful painting of her and Stephanie is also on the wall of the Galgorm Castle ladies locker room.

Aine Donegan from Clare is another Irish name to look out for. The 22 year old was one of the early leaders at the US Open last year when she qualified for Pebble Beach and she’s hoping to become just the second amateur to win the tournament in its 79 years history.

Speaking of the amatuer scene, I was covering the Ulster Stroke Play Championship recently at Clandeboye Golf Club for UTV, with both the men’s and women’s competitions taking place on the Dufferin championship course. 

Adam Buchanan (Royal Portrush) and Annabel Wilson (Castlerock) were crowned Ulster Men’s and Women’s  Amateur Strokeplay Open Champions. Photo: Fran Caffrey/Golffile.

Annabel Wilson from Castlerock Golf Club won the women’s event and Adam Buchanan of Royal Portrush claimed the men’s trophy. 

Annabel, from Lurgan, has benefited greatly from her golf scholarship in America at UCLA. Rebekah Gardner and Molly O’Hara of Clandeboye are currently enjoying their scholarships stateside. Molly has just finished first year at South Dakota State University while Rebekah has played a key role in her first year at the University of Miami. 

Golf Ireland’s Kevin Stevens told me ladies golf is booming here at the moment. The ‘Ladies into Golf’ initiative that takes place at most golf clubs now is a big driver in that but also with the talent from here competing on the world stage it keeps the interest levels high. 

I started golf through the Ladies into Golf scheme and although I can only dream of playing like the Nellys, Leonas and Stephanies of the world I have definitely got the bug! 

I actually just won the latest Ulster Press Society golf outing at Galgorm Castle for Vice Presidents Day. It was a fantastic day and the course was in fabulous condition. 

If you’re looking for a golf fix before the Irish Open comes to Royal County Down in September, get along to Galgorm Castle for the NI Open from July 23-28, and the bonus is it’s free to attend for all spectators.

Local star Tom McKibbin is the host and will be playing in the ProAm July 23.

Tom is Galgorm’s Touring Professional and experienced his first taste of professional golf by playing in the NI Open there as a 13 year old. 

This time last year Tom won his first DP World Tour event at the European Open in Germany. In keeping with the stunning artwork around Galgorm Castle they have a painting of Tom with his incredible approach shot that won it and Tom holding the trophy. 

I will never have my own painting adorning those walls but winning the top prize at Galgorm Castle recently was enough for me!

Below: Ulster Press Golf Society winners with captain Alan Clements at Galgorm Castle

Receiving the trophy from Ulster Press Golf Society Vice President Adrian Eastwood

Interviewing Rebekah Gardner as she received her Mary Peters Trust Award before heading to the University of Miami on a golf scholarship

Stunning artwork on display in the ladies locker room at Galgorm Castle

Stephanie Meadow’s ISPS Handa World Invitational winning picture from 2019 on the wall at Galgorm Castle

More stunning Galgorm artwork, this time of Tom McKibbin winning on the DP World Tour last year