Interview: We meet Holly Clyburn
To describe Holly Clyburn as tenacious would be no understatement. Nor would it do the 23-year-old a disservice.
Part of a new golden generation of successful English amateurs who are now making their mark on the professional ranks, she gained a maiden tour victory, a two-year exemption and a seventh place finish on the Order of Merit during her first full season last year.
“It has been a great last year,” said Clyburn, who is from Lincolnshire. “Being able to win in your rookie year is a dream come true, and I’ve enjoyed going out there and fighting for myself and for my own money.”
She has already kickstarted this year with a more than credible 12th place finish at the World Ladies Championship in China largely thanks to a 64 in the third round.
Heading into the heart of the season, the 2015 Solheim Cup is firmly in her sights.
Clyburn’s maiden tour win came at the Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland, where she was forced to display all of her battling qualities to hold off the challenge of Charley Hull and Carin Koch to take the title by three shots.
The win proved a crucial mark of Clyburn’s ability, coming just five months after she secured her full card in a nervy final round at Q-School.
It looked as though the then 21-year-old would narrowly miss out on a card before a gutsy 68 on the last day propelled her into the qualification places.
“It was very important to get the first win,” she said. “It gives you self-confidence and belief that you are a competitor and you’re not just making the numbers up. You prove that you can win and be up there most weeks.”
Life on tour is undeniably different from playing as an amateur at home, but Clyburn appears to be relishing it.
“The last four months involved a lot of miles going all over the place, but it was quite a fun experience and you get to learn a lot,” she said.
Her successes in 2013 saw her climb to the top of the Rookie of the Year rankings, but she ultimately finished second behind Solheim Cup star Hull.
“I was disappointed. But that’s why you come out and work even harder for the next year. I pretty much handed it to her and it was a good fight throughout the year.
“We both deserved it but it was a disappointing finish to the season not to be able to get some good results and fight to keep the award.”
Hull’s achievements in last year’s Solheim Cup were well documented, and Clyburn is determined to share some of the limelight with her 2013 LET rival when the tournament arrives in Germany next year.
“It’s not far away at all and, before you know it, it will be here,” she said.
“Even last year it wasn’t in my mind but because I had such a good year it got into my mind. I didn’t think I’d be bothered but I ended up being quite disappointed not to make the team.
“It’s something that you work for and you’ve got to fight for your spot because there are girls coming in that are good and they can achieve great things, but so can I.”
Watching Hull thrive in Colorado gave Clyburn extra confidence that she belongs on tour.
“I think everyone is an individual and they will think that they are better than other people.
“I don’t think that I can’t do it, I know I can do it and I proved it this year being a winner on tour. I can be as good as anyone, it’s just about putting the work in,” she said.
I can be as good as anyone, it’s just about putting the work in Clyburn will be hoping that this work not only helps secure a Solheim spot, but also gains her more wins.
Capable of driving the ball around 270 yards, she is already longer than most LET players from the tee and with some short game work should be a formidable force this season.
“I want to get all parts of my game tighter and I’m working hard now to get those finalised. I should play in almost every event on the LET – it’s an exciting time for me.”
Alongside her LET and Solheim Cup ambitions, Clyburn harbours dreams of making it on the biggest stages by succeeding on the LPGA Tour and in Major championships.
Although further LET successes is a necessary prerequisite to playing regularly on the other side of the Atlantic, Clyburn’s recent performance in China is an early indication that she can compete with the best. Her third- round 64 was the second-lowest of the week, and only bettered by eventual winner and four-time Major champion Inbee Park.
“In five years’ time I’ll hopefully be fully on the LPGA and in contention for prize money most weeks,” she said.
“Hopefully I’ll have managed a win on the LPGA and maybe even have won a Major.”
If she continues to progress at the same rate, few would bet against her.
Another graduate from the 2012 Curtis Cup side along with Clyburn and Charley Hull, Boulden enjoyed a hugely successful amateur career representing Wales and turned professional after leading her country to victory in last year’s Home Internationals.
She suffered heartache at LET Q-School in December and narrowly missed out on a full card after a 34th-place finish. However, the 20-year-old will play in many events on the LET this year despite not having a full card, and will be aiming to make inroads to guarantee a full card next season.
Hull took the golfing world by storm last year with a sensational Solheim performance, but she also had a remarkable debut season on the LET, finishing as the top rookie and sixth on the overall money list.
The Woburn teenager has already made a sensational start to 2014 by winning her maiden profesional title in Morocco just days before celebrating her 18th birthday.
Rather than attending LPGA Q-School last year, Hull has decided to split her time between the LET and LPGA in 2014, and will play in some LPGA events through sponsors’ invites.
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