Jayden Ford’s golf clubs were sitting idle at Glasgow airport for two days - somehow lost in transit from London.
Hardly ideal preparation for competing in the Junior Open Championship, an event featuring 142 players from 78 different countries.
Ironically Ford shot a better round with burrowed clubs than he did with his own.
“I shot one-under in round one and even par in round two,” Ford explains.
“That was pretty funny I guess, but there was no way I was using other clubs for the whole tournament,” he insists.
Entering the third and final round at Eden, St Andrew’s, Ford was eight shots from the lead.
With the familiar feel of his own equipment he suddenly caught fire, shooting -4 in his last 12 holes to rapidly surge up the leaderboard.
“It was true full-length golf, unlike anything I've played before. The wind was similar to Wellington, but I really enjoyed the challenge of the links,” Ford enthuses.
The fast-finishing 14-year old ended in third place, the best result ever achieved by a Kiwi at the biannual Under-16 event. Ford was only two strokes shy of eventual winner, South African Martin Vorster.
“I was pretty happy with the result. Martin is two years older than me and he’s a really good player and a nice guy, deeply religious which is pretty cool,” Ford reveals.
The most notable winner of the Junior Open is American Patrick Reed who won the US Masters this year. Former world number ones Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were also competitors.
Ford started playing golf when he was four years old, aborting rugby and football five years ago to fully concentrate on the sport.
Ford emerged from the same Titahi Bay club as US Open champion Michael Campbell, and made his name when he finished third against the country's best players as a 12-year-old in qualifying for the New Zealand Amateur at Royal Wellington in 2016.
Last year he made Wellington's senior representative team.
Ford has had coaching lessons with Campbell, who these days runs a Golf Academy in Spain, but Campbell is far from the most famous player Ford has met.
“I met Jordan Spieth at the presentation of the Open. It didn’t last long and I was a little bit stunned when he showed by I managed to get a selfie which is pretty cool.”
Jayden's regular coach is Dean Kingsbeer. Ford devotes about 30 hours a week to golf.
Jayden, from St Patrick’s College Silverstream, Wellington, is the son of former Black Ferns rugby international and Porirua City Councillor Izzy Ford.
The next major event on Ford’s calendar is the New Zealand Under-19 championship in the Manawatu in September.
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