Teens get shot at the big time

The boom times for golf in the North-East continue. Tim Taylor reports on the latest youngsters now being groomed for success.

The boom times for golf in the North-East continue. Tim Taylor reports on the latest youngsters now being groomed for success.

Two teenagers from Northumberland, Ami Storey and James Curry, will further their ambitions next year by playing American college golf, a training ground with a proven success rate.

Ashington's Kenneth Ferrie has gone on from college in Texas to become the only man from the North-East to win twice on the PGA European Tour.

And Barnard Castle's Robert Dinwiddie, who was in Tennessee, this year became the only British golfer in history to hold the English, Scottish and Welsh amateur titles at the same time.

Storey, like Ferrie, is coached by Matfen Hall's director of golf, John Harrison and she is the first European golfer ever to be accepted for the top-flight Kansas State University

Kansas have awarded Storey a four-year scholarship and she will turn up at freshers' week in mid-August armed with impressive credentials.

This summer, the pupil at Cramlington Community High School became the only golfer in the 42-year history of the Northumberland junior association - male or female - to win both the county junior and senior titles in the same year.

From the Ponteland club, Storey was 17 years and four months old when she took the senior crown at the Gosforth Park Ladies club in April, which makes her the youngest winner of a tournament first staged in 1921.

Another achievement on Storey's CV is a county week matchplay win over the outrageously gifted Yorkshire girl Kiran Matharu, who has since turned professional after reaching a handicap of plus four and who, last month, won her Ladies European Tour card - three months ahead of her 18th birthday.

Coach Harrison said: "Ami has natural talent and many other qualities.

"She is a good technical golfer, fiercely determined, highly focused and organised - and very good at working a ball round a golf course in a way that produces winning scores.

"She has excellent parental support. Malcolm and Helen Storey are the sort of mum and dad who have helped their daughter in every way possible, including getting Ami round to the tournaments she has needed to play in all over the country."

The Storeys live in Blyth, where they run Woodmachines, a company which services industrial woodwork equipment.

Malcolm, an eight handicap member of Bedlingtonshire, caddies for Ami and was on her bag when she made history at the Park

Storey, who is 18 years old today, will study elementary education at Kansas State and said: "It takes a lot of pressure off, having my university place all sorted out.

"As far as my golf goes, I want to take my amateur career as far as I can before thinking about the possibility of turning professional."

Curry, from the Prudhoe club, will head for New Mexico Junior College on the back of a fruitful 2006. He was picked for the England Under-21 squad, helped Northumberland's senior team win the Northern Counties League for the first time in 17 years, became the joint winner of the Northern Boys Championship and set a course record at Newbiggin.

A former pupil at Prudhoe Community High School, the 18-year-old Curry has taken a string of physical jobs over the past year aimed at improving his strength and agility.

He has helped out the greenkeeping staff at Linden Hall, where his father and his coach David Curry, a former British Amateur champion, is the director of golf.

Curry junior has also worked as a part-time lifeguard and, in the build-up to Christmas, has been chopping down trees. He will go on a two-year course in New Mexico, studying physical education and coaching.

He's seeking sponsors and says: "I'm excited about it all. I had a few offers from colleges, but New Mexico was the one which has won the most national college titles.

"I want to reach the highest standard I can and my ambition is to play on the European Tour. "

One asset Curry has going for him is a blue-blooded golfing pedigree.

Twenty years ago, his father David, representing Prudhoe, landed an 11&9 win in the final of the British Amateur at Royal Lytham & St Annes, thrashing the home club's Geoff Birtwell.

It remains the biggest margin of victory in the final of the tournament since 1934.

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