Carly Booth's trip from minor to major
Scottish golfer who sacrificed much of her childhood to reach the top of the game has qualified for the US Open in New York
Wednesday 26 June 2013
Playing your first major championship the week after turning 21 justifies a whole lot for Scottish golf star Carly Booth. All the dislocation involved in an elite sporting childhood is being rewarded out on the course already.
She celebrated her birthday last Friday, not at home in Perthshire but in Munich. She then flew straight out to New York for the US Women's Open, where she is making her debut. It has not been a normal way to grow up but it is a life that Booth loves and one which she has, as far as is possible, been prepared for.
If Booth does struggle with having insufficiently deep roots, she gives little impression of it. "To be honest, I left where I live in Scotland when I was 14 to go to America for two years," Booth said, with the acceptance of someone who has always known the price paid to play elite sport.
"It was a little bit scary at first, but we all agreed it could be a great opportunity, and it could really bring my golf along. My dad really wanted me to go, and I had a full scholarship.
"Then I went to four different high schools in five years, so I don't actually have that many close or best friends at home because I've moved a lot. I'm hardly ever at home.
"Obviously, I do live a different lifestyle. I've been travelling the world since I was 12. It has made me grow up faster. Being away from friends, in some ways you miss out, but I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing today if there wasn't any sacrifice."
Even before her golf career began, sport was an intense part of Booth's young life. "I was a gymnast growing up, as well as a swimmer. I started all of them at about five. My parents made sure we were able to experience every sport before we decided what we were going to do. I was very good at gymnastics, in the Scotland squad. But I stood out more in golf."
Booth, surely, has done enough already to justify that early choice. Many children are identified for a sporting future but not many fulfil as much promise as quickly as Booth, whose brilliant breakthrough came during the 2012 season when she won the Scottish Open and the Swiss Open – both before her 20th birthday.
Those results, and others, meant Booth finished fourth in the European Order of Merit, a remarkable achievement given her age. And, from that, qualification for the US Open at the Sebonack Club in Long Island, New York, the biggest tournament of her life, and the stage she was always preparing for.
"It's my first time in the US as a professional and will be a great week and a great experience. I like the feeling of playing alongside the best, it gets me excited and I'm really looking forward to it."
For the ambitious Booth, this weekend is a chance to improve her profile in the United States.
"My goal is to get on the LPGA, where it all happens and where the best players are. Finding my feet on the European tour is good for me, building my confidence and getting myself out there."
It is a goal shared by Booth's boyfriend, Argentinian golfer Tano Goya. For now they are based together in Marbella, although their schedules often keep them apart.
Booth watched Goya in the Munich Open last week, but he cannot be in New York this weekend to watch her. Goya does have some useful advice, though.
"He just played in the US Open for the first time last week, and told me all about the experience. It's much harder and more difficult than any normal tournament, the rough is unbelievably thick, the course set-up so difficult. But that's the US Open for you."
Booth and Goya both spend much of their time competing, but their shared commitment to the sport they love seems to make life easier. "It's tough sometimes because we will go five weeks away, but he is doing the same thing as me so we can always relate to each other. We practise together and have the same goals."
In that case, Goya might be going all the way to the top too.
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