x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Charley Hull’s golf career is anything but dull

Yet the teenage golfing sensation plays like a seasoned professional and looks good to win the Dubai Ladies Masters, writes John McAuley.

Charley Hull is loyal to the European circuit for now. David Cannon / Getty Images
Charley Hull is loyal to the European circuit for now. David Cannon / Getty Images

DUBAI // Charley Hull may be still three months shy of her 18th birthday, but she already sounds like a veritable veteran.

“I’m just trying to hit that shot I’m about to hit as good as I can,” she said on the eve of her first Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. “That’s all I think about.”

Staying in the moment must be incredibly taxing for a teenage talent who appears to have the golfing world at her feet. An inaugural season on the Ladies European Tour has been a perpetual spin, skipping across three continents and playing her way into pole position for the Rookie of the Year award.

An apparent old head on young shoulders, describing her meteoric rise does however remind just how youthful she actually is.

“My first’s season’s been amazing,” she said. “Travelling to all these different countries and seeing all these cultures, and I’m 17. Some of my friends haven’t been outside Europe, or even England probably. It’s a lot of fun, definitely.”

Hull has not been able to take them along for the ride this week. Because of her age, her father will act as chaperone on her initial visit to the UAE, although a stellar 2013 has offered substantial evidence that she has no problem standing alone.

Immediately after turning 17, Hull began a run of five straight runner-up finishes and has since burnished her bounty with four more top 10s – the most recent sealed last week in India.

The New Delhi display leaves the budding English rose slightly more than €11,000 (Dh55,000) ahead of compatriot Holly Clyburn, her only genuine rival in the race for the top rookie award.

Finish the campaign at Emirates Golf Club with yet another second place, and Clyburn, 22, would need to beat Hull to the trophy here to secure that season-long silverware. While the other permutations are myriad, Hull is seeking to render them redundant. This summer’s Solheim Cup star craves a Dubai double.

“I’m not thinking of [Holly catching me], to be honest. I just want to concentrate on trying to win the tournament,” she said. “A win would top off everything I’ve done this year, which has been great.

“I’d really like that because it proves to myself that I can win and not just finish second.”

Should it not come at the Majlis on Saturday, Hull is certain to find plenty more opportunities in the not-too-distant future. The LPGA Tour seems the natural progression for someone of her undoubted stock, but for now she will remain loyal to the European circuit. Of course, she will not be short of trans-Atlantic invites.

“I didn’t want to go over there straight away,” Hull said. “I didn’t want to miss out on my childhood, seeing my friends, going out and having a good time. I’m still enjoying my life at the moment.”

Though keen to stay focused on the present, Hull could not resist a little childhood fantasy, too.

“Well, it would be pretty awesome if I could win a major next year,” she said. “I think that’s any golfer’s dream.”