Gympie golf prodigy jetting off to Las Vegas for World Stars
GOLF: GOLF: 16-year-old Gympie golfing superstar Rebecca O'Neill has staked her claim as one of the region's most exciting sporting prospects with selection in the IJGA World Stars of Junior Golf tournament in July.
The St Patrick's College student booked her spot in the Las Vegas tournament after coming first in the Girls 17s category - and second in the overall Girls 17-18 age group - at the Australian Junior Age Division Golf Championship at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast last month.
The entirely self-funded trip will be O'Neill's first time heading overseas to play, but the young gun said it was just the beginning of what she hopes will be a long and illustrious career.
"I'm a little nervous but I'm so excited.
"I want to be on the pro tour. I want to be number one in the world,” she said.
"I'm at the course five times a week, practising and playing.
"I don't actually know what motivates me, I just enjoy playing and do it because I love it.
"I don't know what got me into golf exactly. My mum used to work at a pro shop in Proserpine and we think it's just because I had to go there after school. I just picked it up from hanging around the shop.
"My strength is my putting, I need to work on my driving.”
O'Neill's father Stephen said he was impressed with her work ethic on the course both at Gympie Pines and Pelican Waters, where she has fortnightly squad training and lessons from head coach Grant Field.
He said a lack of junior competition in Gympie had played a unique role in setting his daughter up for success.
"I've seen her play absolute rubbish and she's there the next day, smiling and ready to go.
"I think it's the sheer motivation of wanting to get better and enjoy herself,” he said.
"It takes a lot of dedication on her behalf, it's not an easy game and there's not a lot of junior competition in Gympie.
"She was the only registered junior when we moved here.
"She had to play with the seniors. I think it's done very well for her temperament.”
"We're proud of her, very much so.”
O'Neill and her family set up a Go Fund Me for those who would like to assist with travel funds for the tournament.
Search "Rebecca's Olympic Challenge” on gofundme.com to donate.