Teen ready to step up after US trip

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 02/08/2012

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Young golfing sensation Michael Birchall has returned from the trip of a lifetime to the World Junior Golf championships in the United States.

Last month Birchall was whisked off to California after winning the New Zealand Junior Tiger competition in April.

The 14-year-old said Disneyland was the highlight of the trip but admitted the golf was not bad either.

He played in the 13 to 14-year-old boys' division at the Morgan Run Resort in San Diego and finished 108th.

Birchall shot 23 over par after rounds of 78, 76 and 78.

"I'm pretty happy with my score." he said.

"I was playing with the best guys in the world for my age . . . it was a good experience."

The course was short and tight, with many water challenges.

"I only hit one in [the water] on the last round, not too bad really," he said.

With his fairway work on form, it was his driving and putting that let him down.

"The green speed was really fast and it increased more and more each day," Birchall said.

"There was some rain before we arrived, which made it harder as the days went on."

However, squeezing in practice before and after each round allowed Birchall to get on top of it by the end of the tournament.

The Manawatu Golf Club member, who is on a three handicap, aims to return to scratch this year.

"I haven't been playing as well as I can. I went through a good patch at the start of the year and I want to get back there," he said.

Birchall wants to get better and do more.

"I'm wanting to build up my skills and start playing in bigger tournaments," he said.

Next year, he hopes to qualify for the Charles Tour.

"It's achievable, after looking at other players round the same level as me, it's the next step."

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- Manawatu Standard

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