Spain beckons for golf starlet

Darcie Smith (right) with European Ryder Cup star Lee Westwood

Darcie Smith (right) with European Ryder Cup star Lee Westwood

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A trip to Spain beckons for a 14-year-old golfer from Camber.

Darcie Smith earned a place in the Champions Final week of the 22nd Andalucia Junior European Open in association with the Daily Express.

Smith gained one of the last three places available by producing a strong performance in the final qualifying event at Low Laithes Golf Club near Wakefield last Friday.

The final week takes place from November 30-December 5 on the Costa Del Sol. The first four rounds will be played at Alcaidesa links and Alcaidesa heathland courses, and then those that make the cut will play the final round at the superb Finca Cortesin course, the venue for the Volvo World Matchplay in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Reaching the final of this prestigious competition, which in the past has seen the likes of Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Bronte Law grace its entrants, will bring an end to what has been a very successful season for this fledgling golfer.

At the end of September, Smith made the long trip to Close House Golf Club near Newcastle to play in the National Final of the Lee Westwood Golf Tour. She had played in five regional events throughout the summer and qualified for the second year in a row.

At the final, which took place the day after Europe’s triumph in the Ryder Cup, Smith had a chance of success in the girls’ gross competition, and the under-14 gross and nett competitions.

In glorious late September weather, the girls’ competition was an unbelievably close run affair with the first five girls all shooting 81. After three-putting the 18th, Smith finished fourth in the gross standings and third in the nett results.

A prize did await, though, when she was announced as the overall runner-up in the under-14 category. The day was finished off in perfect style when all the prizes were presented by a very tired looking Lee Westwood, who had driven from Gleneagles after enjoying the celebrations with his Ryder Cup team-mates.

Smith, a member of Chart Hills Golf Club and a cadet member of Rye Golf Club, made her first steps towards national recognition when she successfully trialled for England Golf at Hever Castle in September.

Along with five other girls from the Kent and Sussex area, she will make up the England Golf South East Region under-16 squad for 2014-15.

All of this came in a year where county recognition had come Smith’s way. She had already been selected for the Kent ladies’ second team on three occasions and maintained a 100% winning record in her singles matches.

She was also part of the Kent Ladies’ Golf Association team at Junior County Week at Goodwood Golf Club. On an individual level, Smith came runner-up in the Ladies’ Championship at Chart Hills, losing out to ex-professional Sandy Catford over the last few holes.