HYDE-BORN Amelia Garvey spoke about her excitement as she is about to tee off in her first golf major, the United States Open.
The 20-year-old, now a native of New Zealand, received an invitation by virtue of her top 20 amateur world ranking to provide an opportunity to compete against the world’s leading women players.
While spectators are excluded because of Covid-19, Amelia will not be alone at Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas, as her cousin Jamie Tipper, professional at Werneth Low Golf Club, will be on her bag as caddie.
Amelia, who was studying at the University of South California until the pandemic struck earlier this year, said: “Honestly, I don’t think it’s kicked in.
“It’s the biggest tournament a professional women’s golfer could play, I mean it’s the US Open known for being the hardest, fastest and I’m just keen to get out there.”
Amelia has been luckier than most during lockdown as her home in Christchurch, New Zealand, backs on to Clearwater Golf Club where she has been able to practice whereas many top players have been forced to construct temporary nets in their gardens.
“It hasn’t been great because as athletes we live for the competition, so to not have it and have it taken away for eight months the biggest struggle has been staying motivated,” she explained.
Amelia had the disappointment in April on being unable to compete at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur having received an invite to play in this prestigious event at one of the world’s greatest courses.
The 75th US Women’s Open, which begins on December 10 and which is being televised on Sky Sports, has the biggest prize fund of any women’s tournament, 5.5 million dollars.
And Jamie is excited to be visiting the course which hosted the 1967 Ryder Cup and 1969 men’s US Open having overcome challenges to make the trip.
He admitted it was “very stressful” before being given clearance to join Amelia.
Jamie said: “There were lots of forms to fill out. I’ve had to get an American visa, a travel waiver and an elite sport visa to gain entry into the US to bypass the restrictions in place.
“I’ve also had to have a negative Covid test within seven days of flying. It’s been very stressful not knowing if I’m coming or going. There was lots of waiting around.
“Fortunately, I have been granted entry to be by her side once again to keep an eye on her game, do some short game coaching and to caddy for her.”
Jamie added arranging flights was also a logistical challenge with air travel restricted.
His journey to Texas was via Amsterdam and took 12 hours while Amelia’s journey lasted 21 hours.
That is why they travelled early arriving on November 29 to have almost a fortnight to prepare.
Though this will be Amelia’s debut in a major, she is no stranger to big tournaments having played in Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) events and New Zealand Open, a ladies’ European Tour event, aged only 13.
And last year Amelia returned to Werneth Low Golf Club to help prepare for competing in the British Amateur Championships at Royal County Down, Northern Ireland, where Jamie was again her caddie.
Jamie added Amelia has used her time wisely during lockdown as she completed an online summer school meaning she will be able to graduate in May 2021, 12 months earlier than anticipated.
He said: “Amelia has been doing college work in the mornings and golf in the afternoons.
“She’s a little shy of competitive golf but has been working hard on her game and feels good. I’m taking my clubs over so we can have a few competitive games against each other with a little wager.
“It will ensure she concentrates and each shot has a meaning and purpose and she will also have to hole out putts as she tries to get some of her competitive edge back.
“We’ve also got some good practice rounds set up with some of the world’s best players including Lydia Ko, also a Kiwi. She is only 23 years old and a major winner, former world number one and the youngest ever winner on tour.
“I’m obviously very excited to be on the bag again as it’s a major world event.
“I’m there to get a job done and so is Amelia. We’re not there to make the numbers up. I’m there to help Amelia.
“This is what she’s been working towards for years and this is the stage where she wants to end up on. She’s going there to compete and show everyone her talent on the biggest stage not just to make the numbers up.
“We obviously bond very well and trust each other, and it helps with me being a professional golfer.”