THE American dream is driving Jessica Hall on. After spending the summer back in County Durham, the young woman from Witton-le-Wear is back in California ready to attack the next step in her pursuit of success.

Two weeks ago Hall embarked on the challenge of competing in the English Amateur Stroke Play Championship. Her performance was such that she finished tied 20th following rounds of 75-74-73-74 at Purdis Heath Golf Club, Ipswich.

Even though her form has been better over the summer, in her own words, that result at one of the biggest tournaments of the year was a sweet way to finish and head back across the Atlantic on the 5,130-mile journey.

The focus has now returned to life at Fresno State University, where she is on a golf scholarship studying towards a degree and is based on the west coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The challenge she faces at Fresno is to build on her first year with the Bulldogs, the university’s aptly named sports teams, when she was named the Freshman of the Year. That was based on a scoring average of 75.13 and five top 25 finishes which included two top tens.

There were also ten rounds at par or better as well as a career low round of five-under 67 at Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, so any worries she may have had about settling into life in California were soon overcome.

Now, after spending the last two months back home, she wants to keep up the good work for the Bulldogs in her second year at Fresno State.

“Life in California is great. I really feel like I have settled in well back here since I came back too,” said Hall, speaking from the United States this week.

“The academic course is four years long so once this year is over I will have two more to go, that’s when I will be working towards my degree.

“I have really enjoyed it so far. We have a new Freshman from Australia just starting and I am trying to make her feel as welcome as possible as I know how hard it was when I first started out. It is a long way to be away from home.”

Hall is involved in qualifying this week for Fresno State as she looks to make the team for the first event in the NCAA Division One which will see her travel across the country.

The former Durham Sixth Form student and Barnard Castle School pupil had a glittering amateur career even before she headed Stateside.

She finished third at the Irish Girls Open Championship last year, was top ten at the English Girls’ Open Championship and a fifth at the Faldo Series Final at Al Ain in the UAE.

Hall also won the Durham County Junior Championship at Brancepeth Castle, where she set a new course record and qualified to play in the Telegraph Junior Championship final in Portugal. On top of those, she was on the England Under-18 team and won the Critchley Salver at Sunningdale the previous season.

“I played a lot when I was back home this year and it was great to continue playing,” she said. “It was also great to be back home with my family and friends, get some quality time with them.

“This summer my form wasn’t quite there at the start but I definitely felt like I was playing better golf at the end of the season. I finished it off with that top 20 finish at the English Women’s Open Championship and I was really pleased with that.”

The long-term goal for Hall is to step on to the Tour scene, a similar path previous North-East Tour players such as Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Ellie Givens took.

While it may seem exciting – and often is – there is no disguising it is a huge step for a teenager to take.

“Life over here is great,” said Hall. “Last year there were a few up and down moments but that is to be expected when you are living half-way around the world.

“It is hard to live away from my family but they know how much this experience means to me and their support is fantastic.

“It was my dream and I had been thinking about it for a while. I had to decide if it was the right thing to do and it definitely was. My advice to others thinking of doing it would be to give it ago because you will never know if you will like it or not. I surprised myself.”