South Moor question time for Givens

HAVING battled adversity to establish a foothold on the Ladies European Tour, there is no chance of Ellie Givens suffering stage fright when she helps to launch Golfers Question Time in Stanley on Friday.

As befits an old girl of Polam Hall School in Darlington, she is beautifully spoken and will be at ease among her fellow high achievers on the panel.

The other expert pundits answering questions from the audience will include John Harrison, widely recognised as the North's No 1 coach having helped Kenneth Ferrie to three European Tour titles.

Completing the panel are another player coached by Harrison in Jack Hermeston, returning to the South Moor club where he won the McGregor Trophy last year, and Rod Binns, a former Durham Wasps and Great Britain ice-hockey star turned European Tour golfer.

Givens, 22, first took up golf aged six as a result of spending time in the Blackwell Grange club shop with her golf pro father Ralph and her late mother, Lesley.

She played her first national tournament aged 11 and in 2007 won the English Girls Championship.

The day after Givens' 19th birthday, her mother died from cancer and, at 21, she had nine months ripped out of a four-year golf scholarship at the University of Denver with stress fractures of her right shin.

"All of this was far from ideal, obviously,'' said Givens. "And there are two ways you can go. I took the point of view that I just had to get on with things and to try and stay as positive as I could and keep going forward."

She has a major in finance with a subsidiary degree in economics to show from her time at Denver, which ended last year.

In last month's final qualifying for the Ladies European Tour at La Manga, her caddy was her father, the professional at Darlington golf clubs Stressholme and Blackwell Grange and also the secretary at Stressholme.

It looked for a long while as if their only way was up. For the first three of the five rounds, Givens was holding down the top 30 place she needed to win a full tour card at the first attempt.

She was one shot adrift going into the last round. Then it took her too long to get her iron play going and she tied for 4lst place, three shots short of her main target.

But she came away with that rare commodity in the North East - a ladies Tour card, if one that is restricted. It offers her seven or eight starts, the first of them likely to be in Morocco at the end of March.

n Tickets for Friday are £5, available from the South Moor secretary by ringing 01207 232848 (option 3) or emailing secretary@southmoorgc.co.uk

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