ONE OF THE GREATEST GOLFERS IN THE WORLD IS A NIGERIAN FROM EDO STATE
Georgia Oboh: Teenager planting Nigeria’s flag firmly on global golf turf
Georgia Oboh is one of the best things to have happened to Nigerian sport in recent years. OLALEKAN OKUSAN writes on the steady rise of the soft-spoken, Edo-born teenage golfer internationally, given that we are a minor golf-playing country.
By all standards, Georgia Oboh is doing great things on a terrain that is unfamiliar to most of her fellow Nigerians – the international golf circuit.
To say the least, her achievements in golf have been out of this world and sensational for a teenager.
At just 17 years old, Oboh is already a world teen champion, the youngest African to win a professional golf title and the first Nigerian to qualify to play in the Ladies European Tour (LET), a rarefied league of high achievers in golf! Simply put, Oboh is succeeding in golf like no Nigerian before her, breaking barriers with her display at major international tournaments.
When Oboh was named the Discovery of Year at the 2016 Nigerian Sports Award, the teenager apparently took the honour as a challenge to do better. With her parents’ support, Oboh has been working harder than before, traversing the globe to play against the best golfers around the world.
Outside the golf course, Oboh could be shy like any teenager. But the Oboh on the golf course is a different person in her metamorphosis into a formidable competitor hitting birdies after birdies via strong, precise swings of her beloved golf club.
Oboh’s burning love for golf was sparked in her heart at six and fanned into the current roaring flames by her parents. She said: “My parents began playing golf when I was four years old. I started taking lessons when I was six. A few months later, I began competing at local and regional level, in the rain, wind or cold, almost every weekend in the UK. Starting with the British Junior Golf Tour (BJGT) at seven, I was given a handicap of 36.
“But it all really took off when I was named junior golfer of the year in 2008 by the BJGT and also that year I watched the British Ladies Open with my parents and got a ball from the then ladies number-one player, Lorena Ochoa. I really got motivated that day to be the best player that I can be in the sport.”
In addition to her formal lessons to sharpen her golfing skills, Oboh got extra coaching from her dad, Godfrey. “I began taking lessons at Brocket Hall Golf Club in Hertfordshire, England. From there, I had several coaches in several countries but ultimately my father taught me the great game of golf and continues to do so till date. He knows me better than anyone and so I trust that he has my best interest at heart,” she said.
At 14, the youngster put Nigeria on the world golfing map when she won the US Kids Teen Championship. She said: “Winning the U.S. Kids Teen World Championship (Girls 14) remains my greatest moment and it was a turning point in my career. It showed me that through hard work, grit, determination and by the grace of God, I can reach my full potential and become a successful professional golfer. If I truly apply myself, work hard and pray, I can achieve my goals.”
For Georgia Oboh, golf is life. “The individuality makes golf unique because you do not directly play against other competitors. Instead, you play against the golf course, the weather in some instances and more importantly yourself. In golf, your mind can become your worst enemy, especially at crucial times, including pressured situations over the course of a round or over the course of the tournament,” she said.
The 2018 Youth Olympian cherishes the honour of donning the Nigerian national colours: “I see my representing Nigeria as an opportunity to inform people about Nigeria and uplift the status of the nation. This is the time that Nigerians should stand tall and be proud of our roots. We are still a ‘developing’ country but we can use that as the driving force to a much brighter future for the generations to come.”