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THE RISE OF GOLF STARLET EMILY JONES

ON this chilly Wednesday morning, golf starlet Emily Jones keenly absorbed instructions and tips from her father, Geraint as she practised at the Chapman Golf Club.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

A week earlier, Emily had helped the Zimbabwe ladies golf team to a first Gilberson and Page Trophy since 2003, in Zambia. She also scooped the Zambia ladies Open Strokeplay championship.

Jones, who won the Lesotho ladies Open two months ago also led Zimbabwe to a second place finish behind South Africa at the Regional All-Africa Challenge Trophy and the Junior team to come second at the Africa Junior Championships on home soil.

If the last six months was all that mattered, the 14-year-old golf starlet would be the best Zimbabwe female golfer at the moment.

Astounded by the young golfer’s meteoric rise in the past year, Sports World last week went to watch one of Jones’ training sessions at Chapman Golf club.

“Emily won in Zambia but she was not at her best. She was hitting the ball at 85% of her normal ability. It sounds arrogant but she won the tournament playing her B game which means she has matured a lot,” Geraint Jones said during a short break.

“We have set goals for her and they are very high, but we don’t talk about them too much because it puts pressure and one may think we are living in an imaginary world.

“She has consistently progressed every year [and] got to a stage where she was way behind the best local players last year but now she is up there fighting for the top spot,” he added.

Jones who has been competing in South Africa a lot recently finished 24th in the Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship as well as 11th at the Gauteng Ladies Open, which are commendable performances for a golfer her age.

The reigning Zimbabwe junior champion, who retained her title last year, knows exactly what she wants to achieve.

“I want to go pro, that is my dream. I want to play on the LPGA Tour and win everything and break a few records.
Those are my goals. I want to become the world’s best in golf,” she said.

According to Geraint, if all goes according to plan, Emily could be on the pro circuit by the time she turns 20 depending on the level of her game but for now the focus is to improve her as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, Jones says she is just enjoying doing well and winning tournaments.

“It’s euphoric for me to win any competition, especially when I know I can get better. It has been a good year for me and there is always room for improvement. I would like to win the Zimbabwe Ladies Open. next, I would also like to shoot one of my best scores; that would be very good because it’s been a while since I did that,” she said.

A number of factors have helped Emily to up her game in the last couple of years and be counted among the best.

She has been taking her yoga sessions every morning very seriously, eating a lot, competing to beat her best friend Danielle Bekker, playing a lot in South Africa and of course training five hours, six days a week.

“Yoga improves my mind, flexibility, strength and discipline. It’s very healthy and good for my body. I have been on and off for the past few years but I started taking it seriously for the past year,” Emily said.

Geraint cites the exposure to South African competitions as reasons for his daughter’s incredible rise.

“She is getting exposed in South Africa. last year she was there about eight times and we are seeing the benefits.
The Bekkers (Danielle’s parents) have basically sponsored all her trips outside the country and Danielle has travelled all over the world and is probably the best lady junior golfer because she has been winning everything.

“I think what really sparked her [passion] was when Danielle Bekker, her best friend, started doing well and we have been trying to catch up with her in the past. I can say we are almost there and the rivalry between these two is epic,” he said.

“We are not happy losing to each other even if we are playing a friendly competition,” Emily said of her rivalry with Danielle.

Their competition transcends the golf course and storms the dinner table whenever they are touring together. And Emily who has grown a lot bigger seems to be the runaway winner when it comes to food.

“I love food, it’s always been like that and when I eat a lot I grow taller and stronger which is good for my golf,” she said.

Raised by her father, Emily’s golf journey began when she was just three years old, chipping the golf ball around the garden. She started taking the game serious when she was 10.

Having been in Zimbabwe Junior golf for a number of years, she shot to prominence in 2015 when she won the junior championships after shooting a course 68.

Since then, she has grown in leaps and bounds and seems destined for greater heights.

After observing his daughter’s potential, her father decided to home-school her to give her the flexibility to balance with golf training.

She has tried a bit of swimming and tennis, but golf turns out to be her only love.

“It’s my favourite thing in the whole world. The thrill of trying to better your scores and trying to get better is amazing. And even if you are playing well you can’t always finish well. there are always hidden curves in the course.”

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