Meadows: A medal would be as good as a Major
Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30
Stephanie Meadow's Olympic dream was almost over before it even began, but a phone call from Paul McGinley last month changed everything.
The 24-year-old Antrim native saw her form dip dramatically last year following the death of her father but having battled her way through the grief, Meadow now feels she is on the verge of recapturing the kind of form that saw her blaze a trial through her college days at the University of Alabama.
It is 10 years since Meadow's parents decided to uproot from Northern Ireland and move to South Carolina so that Stephanie could take up her place in the International Junior Golf Academy.
Plenty of sacrifices have been made along the way, but the loss of her father hit her much harder than she realised at the time.
"I have never quite gone through anything like that before and I don't think I realised how much it affects my golf life as well as my personal life," she admits. "I tried to battle through and I came right back out onto the LPGA a week after the funeral and it was just too soon, I think.
"I knew that's what Dad would have wanted me to do. It was just hard but I was battling through and working just as hard or probably harder than I have ever worked and was getting absolutely nothing out of it, which was very frustrating.
"But it happens, and hard work always pays off in the end. It's nice to know that I knuckled down and now I'm on an upper trend back to where I was."
Meadow turned professional in 2014 - the same year that she managed a stunning third-place finish at the US Women's Open.
While she has struggled for form, the withdrawal of the Netherlands from Rio reignited her dream.
"It was one of those things where world rankings change so much so quickly," she recalls. "I thought I had missed it and I had heard rumours on the LPGA that the Netherlands girls wouldn't be going because of their federation so I had a fair idea before I got the phone call from Paul.
"I think there is always more pressure when you want something really badly but that's also a good thing because it drives you on.
"For me, an Olympic medal is as good as a major. You fight for it and you play for your country. I think that women's sport can always benefit from publicity like the Olympics.
"Male sport already has week-to-week publicity. Everybody is following them on the PGA Tour. They're on a much bigger stage. It's difficult to compare the two."