Zara Naughton should have been at school on Monday. Instead she was shooting level par for a top-25 finish among the likes of Jamie Donaldson and Marcus Armitage
Under normal circumstances Zara Naughton would have spent Monday in school. But these aren’t normal times, and instead the 14-year-old from Newcastle was competing on the 2020 Pro Tour alongside the likes of three-time European Tour winner and Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson and LET star Amy Boulden.
Zara carded an even-par round of 70 at Oulton Hall on to finish as the second highest placed woman – one back from Boulden – in the mixed-gender event, an eight-shot improvement on the week before at Cleckheaton.
I grabbed Zara, a two-handicap who plays out of Ponteland Golf Club, following her round at Oulton.
“It’s really good experience,” she said. “And I’m learning from the older players.
“Obviously they’re better golfers so you learn a lot more than just playing with your own age group. Now I can put all their skills into my game to make me play better.
“I learnt even if you get a bogey you’re not out of it. All the pros, when they get a bogey, end up getting birdies straight after, so it’s helped me keep my head up. I got a double on the third but I thought I can get it back. I also learned to just play for the middle of the greens and I don’t need to go for the flag every time.”
On the 2020 Pro Tour itself, Zara is a fan. “It’s worked really well but the length does depend on the golf course and different tee boxes available,” she explained. “But it’s a really good idea to get the men and women playing against each other and everyone I’ve played with has been really nice, supportive, and talkative.
“I beat the boys I played with today. Which was good, because last week I got beat by a lot!”
As well as finishing as the second female in the field, Zara was the fourth amateur thanks to her tied-24th position, six off the eventual champion, European Tour player Marcus Armitage.
Not bad for someone who is yet to sit their GCSEs.
Fantastic experience today warming up and playing with @amy_boulden@sophielamb97 @DonaldsonJamie in the @2020protour at @oultonhallgolf
Super pleased with my game, 2nd female and second amature. Thanks to @Vallelyjj for getting me competition ready👊 pic.twitter.com/jVI33GjN97
— Zara_Golf (@NaughtonZara) June 15, 2020