Golf Northwest: Mark's new target after day in national spotlight; JUNIOR GOLF.
MARK O'HARA is preparing for his bid for his next golf target - to win a junior open this summer - with every reason for high optimism.
The 13-year-old has been playing for less than three years but he has already finished top of 16,000 challengers to win a national event.
Mark plays at the Aintree Grand National Golf Club, where he has won in competitions against the men and ladies. But the top trophy on the shelf at his home in Maghull is the Marie Curie Cancer Care Queen Mother's Cup.
He qualified at Aintree, won the regional final at Carden Park and then the national final at Royal Lytham, where he was the youngest player in the field. He returned a level par round for the 18 holes off his handicap, then 18.
He has worked hard at his golf but he pays tribute to the help he has received since being awarded the Wesley Bradshaw Memorial Scholarship at Aintree, named after an employee of the Aintree Golf Centre killed in a road accident.
The scholarship, set up by the Golf Centre a few years ago, gave Mark free membership of the Aintree Grand National Golf Club for a year, free golf balls for practice, and most importantly, free lessons with club professional Scott Duffy.
Mark is now with Heswall professional Alan Thompson, an England coach, but Scott taught Mark for a couple of years and says: 'He is a very natural golfer. He has a natural, excellent swing, technically pretty near perfect.'
Mark played football for his junior school and began playing golf with his father Terry at Mossock Hall.
He says: 'My dad bought me a junior set of golf clubs but at first I just used some cut-down clubs which were lying around at home. I have played lots of sports but when I went to Mossock Hall I loved golf straight away. I found I could hit a lot of good shots.
'I was made up when I was awarded the scholarship. I have benefited a lot from the lessons.
I really want to thank all the staff at Aintree. They have been so supportive of me.'
He comes home from school, Deyes High, Maghull, finishes his homework, has his tea and then he goes to the Aintree Centre, almost every day. He also works with Alan Thompson regularly.
'I need to maintain a solid swing,' he says. 'I was not on a proper plane.'
His father Terry, an electrician, caddied for his son in the Marie Curies regional final at Carden Park and the national final at Royal Lytham and while obviously proud of his achievements does have some concerns about the attention that followed his win.
'The potential is there,' he says. 'But we want to keep the spotlight off him, keep his feet on the ground and just let him develop and see how he gets on.'
Mark has been out of action for a couple of months with a broken finger but is now practising for the season ahead.
When he is asked about his swing thoughts he talks of the need to develop a solid swing, an ideal plane and 'always try and hit the shot beyond the hole. It will never go in if it is short'.
His handicap is now 14. Apart from winning a junior open this summer he is hoping to have a single figure handicap by the end of the season. He dreams of being a professional golfer, playing the tours. 'I am doing well,' he says. 'But I know that to be a professional will be hard work
Mark O'Hara, pictured at Royal Lytham, hopes to continue his good progress after winning a national competition
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Apr 12, 2005|
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