World Invitational: Stephanie Meadow is back on track after gutsy victory

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Meadow won a memorable victory at Galgorm Castle on Sunday

The weight of home expectations in a golf tournament is not always easy. Just ask Rory McIlroy.

But Stephanie Meadow took the pressure to see her face on the billboards in Northern Ireland this week in a way that suggests that the career of the 27-year-old is really on the right track after some difficult time.

Not that it all just sailed when Charley Hull & # 39; s last-day rally threatened to wrestle the inaugural World Invitational women's title of the Jordanstown woman.

Eventually, the English woman had a six-foot eagle putt on the 18th to force a playoff after a sensational three-wood second shot, but it failed when Meadow celebrated an emotional victory in her first outing in the paid rows in Northern Ireland.

"No comment," laughed Meadow, asking if she would consider giving McIlroy advice on how to wear the house mantle.

But the emotion that caused this success for Meadow could not be hidden after the pain of losing her father to cancer in 2015 and a subsequent back injury that had affected her play.

The death of her father – after having been diagnosed with cancer four months ago – was a huge blow after all the sacrifices her parents had made so that she could continue her promising golf career.

The family moved to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for a 14-year-old Meadow followed her wave dream and eight years later, the Northern Irishwoman finished a notable third in her professional debut at the Women's US Open. in Pinehurst, just a few shots behind winner Michelle Wie.

& # 39; I was not ready to play & # 39;

But within a year her father died and the emotional toll was enormous for Meadow when she noticed she was crying while standing over a fairway wood shot at an LPGA event in Canada a few weeks later.

"I just wasn't ready to play. It was just too raw and too fresh at the time," Meadow recalled in an interview with BBC Sport Northern Ireland in January 2017.

The grieving meadow won no dollars during its remaining nine events in 2015, while it missed every cut.

And although she represented Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games, the back stress fractured her 2017 campaign when she lost her LPGA Tour card in the US before regrouping to win the second row Symetra tour in the United States in 2018.

"It has certainly been a long journey up and down. This victory gives me a lot of confidence. It is a shame it didn't matter at the LPGA. I wish it happened.

& # 39; Maybe I inspired a few girls & # 39; – Meadow

"I have a bit of work to do to keep my card. Hopefully I can use this victory as a momentum.

" I played against Charley Hull – one of the best players in the world. If I can do it against her, I can do it there too, so it's great for me in terms of trust. "

As a one-off, Meadow had her American friend Kyle Kallan for her on the bag for her this week although he will work with his new employer Jennifer Kupcho in Canada next after splitting with Paula Creamer.

"It was nice to share that experience with him."

Getting away from golf during Sunday moments helped keep Meadow calm when Hull threatened to bring her in.

"We had about how we are going to take the rental car to the airport tonight before we take the bus to Dublin. Just normal things. "

Groundbreaking tournament hopes to kick & # 39; kicks & # 39;

After extending its four-shot lead in the night to five, Meadow's advantage was suddenly reduced to just two by the 10th tee after a wandering fairway wood shot at nine led to a penalty drop and subsequent double bogey.

"I missed it a bit well, but it got a pretty bad jump from a tree in some pretty nasty things over there.

"I certainly took worse photos this week that ended well. But that's just golf and I told myself and could take the next two holes back and make a birdie."

The late drama saw Weide almost lose a three-stroke lead she had on the 17th tee, but the record books will show that she has won the inaugural World Invitational women's title.

Concerning an overview of the event that saw individual men and women tournaments with equal prize money for the first time in Europe, tournament backer and pop star Niall Horan is convinced that it has been a success.

Pop star Niall Horan & # 39; s Modest Golf Bureau was centrally involved with the World Invitational

"It really felt very natural there. Even the idea of ​​a male group and then a female group and so on really worked," said Horan, who at the Modest Golf Management Agency is at the forefront of this week's event.

"People all over the world look at it. They see what we do and hopefully we can make it even bigger for more money.

" It is something that has only been going on for the past six or eight months. Gathering together and doing what we did would be a big gamble.

"But we had a huge sponsor, ISPS Handa, who came on board. A company that changed the game of golf in general in general for a long time. To get them on board and equal to get a reward for the ladies was a big thing for us. "

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