Annabel Wilson is one of the bright lights in the Irish amateur golf scene. Wilson has won many accolades through her still growing career, such as the 2019 Irish Women’s Close championship. She has also performed well in other competitions such as placing in the top 20 of the World Junior Girls Championship and the European Ladies Amateur Championship and is currently competing on the college circuit in the United States.
The Lurgan golfer returned home in March after her first year at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Her academic year was cut short due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Showing her maturity she explained "It was getting too crazy over there - I was one of the last members of the team to come home and it was the best decision, It's a lot to take in but all you can do right now is sit tight, stay at home and wait for this to blow over. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
"I think I was in denial when the season was called off - a lot of us were - it was a tough pill to swallow but we have to move on, accept it and look at the bigger picture." She added.
The 19 -year-old received a scholarship to pursue golf in America and spoke about the move, "I settled in quickly. They always say the first semester is the toughest with home sickness but I adapted really well. The Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU) has definitely helped in that respect."
"I was only 13 when I had my first long-haul flight, off playing golf for Ireland, so I was well travelled. The opportunities with the ILGU stood to me and have made me a more rounded person. I just enjoy travelling all over America. I was fortunate enough to have a hole in one at a tournament in Hawaii in November.” She added
Speaking to BBC Wilson said "Playing there was such a great experience. They said the Kohala course wasn't the most scenic but it was stunning. Colorado was another great venue - playing at 8,000 feet above sea level."
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The Co. Armagh teenager got her love for golf from her father and said “I was over in Scotland. My dad was doing an annual golf day and brought me out. As soon as I got back I joined my local club.”
With the current situation her plans and tournaments have either been put on hold or rescheduled but the teenager is already a step ahead and mapped out a tentative schedule for when the season restarts "I had planned my summer back around three major events - the British Amateur, the European Team Championships and the European Individual Tournament and then head back to the USA at the beginning of August but we'll have to wait and see," she explained.
Wilson is currently stuck at home but she is still able to improve her game as she stated " I have a net and a mat so I can hit drivers and I have an eight-foot putting strip.”
"I haven't actually touched a golf club in weeks and I'm starting to miss it - I've put up the net and cleaned the putting strip ready to go." She explained. Wilson last competed at the Bruin Wave Invitational in February and finished 7th and the Darius Rucket Intercollegiate in March earlier this year and finished 29th.
Wilson won the bronze medal for Ireland at the 2016 World Amateur Championships in Mexico alongside teammates Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey. "I saw quite a lot of Olivia with her being at Arizona State as we play a similar schedule and of course back in Northern Ireland we live quite close to each other. Leona is terrific and it was pretty cool to play in the same team as her," added Wilson.
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Speaking about the future of Irish women’s golf Wilson said "I think the future of Irish women's golf is really bright - we have Leona and Stephanie Meadow both on the LPGA Tour and I think very soon there will be others like Olivia on tour. Leona and Stephanie have shown they can compete at the very top level. I hope one day to join them.”
"I think being in the USA is the right move. You are playing and testing yourself against the best players on different courses with different types of grass. Playing here helps you develop the skills you need to play at the highest level.”
"I got my first taste of pro-life when I played at the ISPS Handa Invitational at Galgorm last August. It was a great experience. I wasn't nervous and loved hanging out in the players’ lounge. I did well in the first round and it was great to see Stephanie win."
Wilson was named in the initial panel of ten for the Curtis Cup and was hoping to make her debut in Conwy in June. With the Curtis Cup being postponed it has made Wilson even more determined to be part of the Great Britain and Ireland team next year. "I knew it was coming. June was just too soon but sure it's something to look forward to next year," she said.
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"At least the event hasn't been cancelled, only postponed. The Curtis Cup is the pinnacle of amateur golf and I'll be playing my best to get on the team."
The Liverpool supporter was celebrating Jurgen Klopp's reds lifting their first Premier League title and she will be hoping to emulate her favourite team with her own tournament win. As Wilson said “I don’t play with fear. I just enjoy playing golf.” With her potential and training, it is very clear she is one to watch in the future.