Golf: Head wound healed

Wellington's Julianne Alvarez is hoping that this week's New Zealand Age Group Championship goes better than her last golf tournament.

National representative Alvarez was leading the Kapi Tareha event at the Napier club when she was struck in the head by a stray golf shot from an adjacent hole.

Alvarez, who was admitted to hospital after the nasty blow to the head which concussed her midway through the final round, has recovered from the incident which happened a month ago. She is ready to play at the Mangawhai-hosted event formerly known as the New Zealand Under 19 Championship.

Despite her recent injury she is one of the favourites for the national age-group title alongside New Zealand Amateur finalist Wen Yung Keh and Auckland's Jesse Hamilton.

"My head has healed over now," said the 15-year-old from the Manor Park Golf Club.

"It has left a star-shaped scar, which is pretty cool. You still might see me walking around with a bandage on my head but I am feeling fine."

Alvarez wants to show that her recent hard work on and off the course has made her a better player.

"It would mean a lot to win this title. I've collected a number of silver and bronze medals in New Zealand tournaments over the years but I have never won a gold medal, or won a title, so to win this title would mean a lot to me," she said.

Once she had recovered from her freak head injury, Alvarez got back into her practice and schoolwork and has also been spending plenty of time at Les Mills.

"With the new gym membership that New Zealand Golf has provided me, I've been spending some more time exercising and getting stronger on top of maintaining stretches.

"I've also received a cool new set of irons, wedges and woods provided by New Zealand Golf and Srixon [golf gear company] that I have been practising with, and the set has really helped lift my game, improving my accuracy and length."

Alvarez made it to the semifinals of the New Zealand Amateur at Mount Maunganui.

"My major work on coming out of the amateurs was my mental skills and I have been working very hard on that with my mental-skills coach, Vicki Aitken, and that been coming along nicely as well.

"There is always a pressure when being one of the name players of a tournament, but with what I've been working on with my mentality, I feel confident in myself because I have put in hard hours of practice for both my technique and my mental skills.

"When I booked my practice round I had a chat with the pro and he did say that, although the golf course isn't as long as most, it definitely plays longer than it looks, and looking on the internet, the course looks quite undulating and tree-lined, so being accurate will be key, accuracy and short game."

The Mangawhai tournament starts today and continues until Friday.

The tournament is part of the selection process for the New Zealand squad to compete at next year's Australian Youth Olympics Festival.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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