Ellie heading Down Under to give year perfect start

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

ELLIE GIVENS has a long term wish to return to the United States to further her golfing career, but first it is about making sure she builds on an encouraging start to life on the Ladies European Tour.

For the third year in a row Givens will be playing Tour golf after securing her card automatically by virtue of her performances in 2013. Another step, she says, in the right direction for what she wants to achieve.

While eventually returning to the States, where she studied finance in Denver before graduation in 2011, is prominent in her thinking, the next 12 months are about becoming established among this continent’s top golfers.

Not entirely satisfied with the 72nd spot on the Order of Merit which secured her Tour privileges for a further year, she wants to make sure that is just the start of an extended guaranteed run on the circuit.

“It just means I can plan my year a bit better now,” said Givens, whose Order of Merit finish was helped by a career-best sixth at the Turkish Airlines Open.

“When I did not have my full card, I had to wait until the last minute to see if I would get an invite. When I did I only have a couple of weeks to prepare and plan the trip.

“It’s not all bad when you have to prepare late. I’m not complaining about it. But I do think being able to plan ahead, look at the schedule and pick out the events you want to play in, could help. I’ve not been able to do that before, but I can now.”

It is a schedule she will start at the end of this month. Rather than wait until the Tour comes to Morocco for the Lalla Meryem Cup in March where last year started for her, Givens is heading Down Under to give her full Tour card an early outing.

The 24-year-old has pencilled in a curtain-raising appearance at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open on January 31 before hopefully playing in both the Australian Masters on the Gold Coast and then the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Melbourne before returning home in mid-February.

“I can’t wait,” said Givens, who enjoyed a trip to the end of season showpiece at the Omega Dubai Masters despite missing the cut.

“I’ve never been to the part of the world before so it’s a great opportunity for me to go out there to play golf and enjoy a real life experience. I will be there for around three weeks and hopefully I can get the year off to a good start.”

The build up to the trip to the other side of the world is in full swing and Givens has been hitting the gym and the driving range to work on things. Her father, Ralph, the Blackwell Grange professional, continues to support and offer advice, but more often than not she tends to tweak her game on her own.

The Rockliffe Hall attached pro said: “I’ve had help from my dad over the years and also there was a guy called Doug Wherry over in Denver that I would often turn to. Since coming back over here though, I have not really had a coach. I’ve tended to work on things myself.

“You tend to have faults that you are aware of and creep back in without thinking about them. I just try to keep on top of those. During my time in America, I got used to the programmes I was given out there, I learned different things and I use those to help me. It’s not like I’m sticking to these fitness and training programmes I’ve never done before.”

That led the conversation back to the United States and her hopes of going back. She said: “I would love to play there again. To achieve that I would have to go through Q-School over there and that’s definitely something I will be thinking about in the future.

“But it’s all about securing my European Tour card again and sustaining that. It has to be about small steps rather than big ones. I have always been that way. I’ve never really liked to look too far ahead.

“This year I want to hit more greens and lots of fairways, the more of those I hit the better my year will be. If I can focus on the small things then that could lead to bigger goals. I would love to win a European Tour event, but for me taking smaller steps could make me a better golfer.”

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