Olympian Stephanie Meadow has joined Paul McGinley under the sponsorship wing of the banking and investment firm Investec and set her sights on a Solheim Cup debut under childhood hero Annika Sorenstam
The Jordanstown native moved to the US with her family seven years ago and having graduated from the University of Alabama she is currently the highest ranked Irish professional female golfer at 259th in the Rolex Women’s World Golfing Ranking,
"Obviously I’d have to have a fantastic year but I know I can do it," Meadow told The Irish Times. "Annika’s the captain, actually I’d call her a friend. She was a role model when I was younger, I admired her since I was 11, 12 and she was in her prime winning everything.
"To have her as a captain would be unbelievable but it is definitely a goal, a very high goal but if you don’t reach high you can’t go far.”
Having finished 31st in the Olympics under McGinley’s guidance in Rio and gone on to claim 115th place on the 2016 LPGA Tour money list, Meadow will get around 20 LPGA Tour starts and have opportunities to improve her status
Set to turn 25 next week, January 20, she will make her 2017 debut in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Ope at Royal Adelaide on February 13 and continue what has been an inspiring golfing story.
Her parents Robert and Louise gave up everything, uprooting to the US when she was 14 so that she could study at a golf academy.
She went on to have a stellar amateur career with Ireland and the University of Alabama, making her professional debut with an impressive third place finish in the 2014 US Women’s Open at Pinehurst No 2.
When her father passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer in May 2015, it was clearly a huge blow and Stephanie lost her LPGA Tour card.
Explaining that she came back to tour life too soon she said: "I was definitely not ready for that and if I had to do it again I wouldn’t do it because you are talking about standing in a fairway breaking down and saying ‘oh god, I really can’t do this yet, I am not ready."
With Investec on board, Meadow will now have crucial financial backing as she bids to re-establish herself.
Michael Cullen, CEO of Investec Ireland said: “I am delighted to have Stephanie on board and I look forward to building a fantastic working relationship with her in the coming year.
"Investec has been proud to partner with many great sporting champions in Ireland and internationally over the years. It is hoped our support will help to nurture Stephanie’s fantastic talent and help her to continue to compete at the top of her game.”
Meadow said: “To be allied with the high calibre of sporting athletes Investec has already collaborated with is a great honour and I hope to emulate their success in my own career.
"Looking forward to the 2017 season, I hope it will be my most successful to date and I am excited to have Investec supporting me all the way.”
McGinley, a 25-year ambassador for the company, added: “Getting the support and backing from Investec was invaluable to me at the beginning of my career. I hope a similar partnership with Stephanie will help her to achieve her full potential in her professional career as she has a very bright future ahead.”