Ahead of Hartlepool golfer Graeme Storm’s Junior Open, we caught up with the South Africa Open winner for an exclusive Q&A.
In his chat with Mail Sport he opens up about how he got involved in the sport, what he sees as the future of golf in his hometown, as well as the highs and lows of his career to date.
I lost my father then I had to play the next day. That gave me the strength to get where I am today
Mail: How did you get involved in golf?
GS: “I started when I was 11. My grandfather was a member of Hartlepool Golf Club. He brought me along and gave me a seven iron, took me on the driving range and we just hit a few balls and I just kind of fell in love with it from there.
“He was a massive influence, he was a good golfer himself. He took me as far as he possibly could and then passed me over to the local pro, Malcolm Cole, that was here. He the guided me through until when I won the British amateur in ‘99.”
When you started out all of those years ago, could you have imagined you’d enjoy so much success?
GS: “Definitely not. When I did start to play golf, football was my first love, so I wanted to be a footballer. My grandad, who brought me into golf, was a good footballer as well.
“He watched me play a football match when I was 14 and I got kicked off the park. My Grandfather said to me ‘football is not for you son’.
“My career has been well documented for being a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Everything came really quickly to then losing absolutely everything.
“I really did have to go back to Euro pro qualifiers because I had no qualifications either, When I had to go back to qualifying, I had to go into the regional’s at Wynyard I remember shooting 79 and then I lost my father.
“I had to play again the next day, some people would say why did you play, but that is what my dad would have wanted me to do. That gave me the strength to get where I am today.”
What is your career highlight?
GS: “It has to be beating Rory (McIlroy) in January. That will take some beating.”
Does the sport have a strong future in the North East?
GS: “The numbers have dropped over the past so many years for whatever reason. It is one of those games that can teach you so many things, and what I have found in my career is that you make so many friends.”
Storm’s Junior Open, in association with Dyke House School, takes place on April 7, at Hartlepool Golf Club. All entry fees are set to be donated to the Finlay Cooper Fund.