Eight-year-old Traigh Pathon has always had a passion for golf and last week he competed in the Kids Golf World Championship in North Carolina, America.
Traigh, who stays in Athlone, joined more than 1 400 children from around the world, aged 12 and under, to compete for the most prestigious title in children’s golf.
In May this year, Traigh tied for 9th place in the Euro Kids Championships in Scotland. He was 1-under par for the three-day tournament and only six shots from first place.
Last week Traigh competed against golfers from 50 different countries on one of the toughest courses – the famous Pinehurst club.
His father, David van Schalkwyk, said since Traigh was just over one year old, he would walk around with a golf club and still does.
When Southern Mail spoke to Mr Van Schalkwyk before they headed off to the competition, he told us that he hoped his son would make the top 15.
“It is very difficult and will be challenging to compete but he is capable. Each tournament is a learning experience for us. We are very privileged to be here. It does get emotional because he gets to compete against the best kids in the world,” he said at the time.
Traigh’s passion for golf stems from his father who also enjoys the sport and has been playing golf for 20 years. Traigh’s grandparents and step-grandparents are also golfers.
Asked who taught him to play golf, Traigh said: “My dad, YouTube videos, Kurt Stripp – I did group lessons with him every Saturday when I was four years old, and now, my coach Keagan Beyer.”
Traigh, who regards himself as the best golfer in the family – even better than his dad – said he was a better putter than driver, and while he had never had a hole-in-one, had came very close.
“I love seeing the ball go into the hole. When I compete I play against the course I’m playing. I focus on doing my best and having fun.”
Asked which pro golfer he emulates, he said: “I think different ones at different times but I do like Justin Thomas. He’s small but pound for pound he’s one of the longest on tour. I’d like to play with Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Gary Player.”
Besides playing golf he also enjoys athletics and cross country. His favourite golf courses include St Andrews in Scotland, the Royal Cape golf course in Ottery and The River Club in Observatory.
His top three tips for winning is: “Head down, finish high, and every shot counts.”
Traigh was in transit when this edition went to print, so we have not yet been able to confirm how he did in the competition.