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  • Nigerian Golfer Goes Low at YOG


    10/13/18

    (ATR) Nigerian golfer Georgia Oboh shot a final round 71, all the more impressive considering first and second round scores of 81 and 82.

    Georgia Oboh hits a shot in the final round of tournament (Anthony Benoit)
    “I think I was just a bit more relaxed today, especially on the greens, I just felt more relaxed putting and I’ve been working on my swing recently – and the changes just clicked today,” Oboh tells Around the Rings after her closing round at the Youth Olympic Games women’s individual stroke play tournament.

    The 17-year-old golfer – who plays high school golf in Florida – is testament to the sport’s growing universality and global reach, much in part due to its inclusion into the Olympic Games.

    “It is wonderful that all these countries are involved in golf, and many more aren’t, so it’s a great improvement to see small countries with golfers, despite the climate, despite the travel, that they still came and took this opportunity,” Oboh said about the Buenos Aires YOG.

    Golf made its Youth Olympic Games debut four years ago at Nanjing 2014, in addition to being played at Rio 2016, the first time at an Olympics in more than a century.

    Oboh finished 22nd out of 32 female golfers. The tournament was played at the Hurlingham Golf and Polo Club, nearly an hour outside the city center.

    Georgia learned the game growing up in Manchester, England and currently plays high school golf in Florida. She started with lessons at the age of six.

    Georgia Oboh with her father and mother in Buenos Aires (ATR)
    Georgia’s father Godfrey said Nigeria attempted to qualify for the first edition of the YOG, but was unsuccessful. She received an invite to the Buenos Aires YOG by the International Golf Federation based upon her extensive tournament experience. Since the age of 12, she has competed in four U.S. Open qualifying tournaments.

    Her father hopes the presence of the Nigerian sport minister in Buenos Aires, who came to watch his daughter play at the Youth Olympic Games, will ultimately lead to the sport becoming more accessible in his native country.

    “He walked three holes with her this morning and look how well she played,” he said. “When he goes back home and golf needs support, he will want to do it, he’ll understand.”

    “The growth is definitely now apparent – I’ve seen parents come and caddy for their kids in competitions and the fact that golf courses are letting kids come and play, whether to practice or compete, is just wonderful,” Georgia said of golf in Nigeria.

    There are currently 60 golf clubs in Nigeria, all of them private, and not even driving ranges are available to the public. Nigeria’s first course at the Ikoyi Club dates back to the late 1930’s.

    “Golf has been around for a long time in Nigeria and it is growing everyday,” she said.

    Nigeria and golf power South Africa were the only African nations represented at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

    Godfrey Odoh said that “inviting the lesser developed golfing countries to come and play” at the Youth Olympic Games will help draw attention to Nigeria and worldwide.

    “The economy has slowed down a bit because of the depression, but golfers are enthusiastic about the game and they are coming to build golf courses,” he said of the African country of 186 million people. “The game of golf is being elevated in the country so there are people upgrading the old courses and hopefully building new ones.”

    He advised that the Nigerian Golf Federation is planning to create a public training facility and he also envisions a future public course.

    Georgia will represent Nigeria again in the mixed team event on Saturday, paired with Jordan Thompson, who shot an opening round 101, but improved significantly in his subsequent rounds.

    “It is a wonderful to play in any Olympic Games and it has been a wonderful opportunity to play on this wonderful golf course in Argentina, see a bit more of the world, and play against the world’s best golfers.”

    Coverage of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games is made possible in part by BA 2018

    Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Buenos Aires

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