GOLF: Rising star Gregor eyes US mission

Kirtlington’s Gregor McKenzie

Kirtlington’s Gregor McKenzie

First published in Sport

A rising star in Oxfordshire is all set to face the best young players on the planet this summer – a year after missing out due to a family holiday.

Kirtlington GC’s Gregor McKenzie will tee up in the Callaway Junior World Championships, held in California this July.

It means he will follow in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who all played in the prestigious tournament as youngsters.

McKenzie, who was 13 on Monday, thought he had missed out after losing a play-off in October to Ryan Chadwick in the British Junior Golf Tour tournament at Collingtree Park.

But after Chadwick was forced to withdraw, his place was awarded to McKenzie.

It is a suitable reward for the Kirtlington talent, who was forced to give up his place last summer due to holiday commitments.

His father, Ewan, was delighted with the news and has ensured there can be no repeat this time.

“I’ve made sure we have booked out these two weeks,” he said. “You don’t want to be disappointed two years on the bounce, so it was quite nice to be able to say he had qualified.

“He’s absolutely thrilled he’s getting the chance to go.

“He’s excited about getting to play in the US against people from other countries.

“It will be the first time he’s played in the US and hopefully it will be a good experience.

“We’re still trying to keep it fun and aren’t taking it too seriously, but it’s an experience a lot of people don’t get to do.

“He knows he’s very lucky to be able to play out there.”

Qualification means McKe-nzie will be part of an event which features the top young players from across the United States, plus golfers from more than 30 countries.

The seven-handicapper is in good form and won a monthly medal earlier this month.

The only downside to playing in July’s tournament, held at the Rancho Santa Fe Resort, near San Diego, for the under 13/14 category is the teenager won’t be able to defend his crown closer to home.

He won the Kirtlington club championship nett competition by five strokes as a 12-year-old, but this year’s event clashes with the trip to the USA.

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