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Ballyhaunis boy wonder strikes again


SHOOTING FOR THE STARS John William Burke (12) shows off his record-breaking card last week.

YOUNG Ballyhaunis golfer John William Burke (12) hit the headlines again last week, shooting an incredible round of 59 at the Irish Junior Golf Tour at Ballycastle, Co Antrim. Needless to say the score was enough to win the tournament; not only that, he finished -12, nine shots better than second-placed Ollie McEvoy.
To add further context to the victory, Ballycastle is the young McEvoy’s home course and his dad, Damian, is the resident professional.
Along the way to the historic score, John William hit his first ‘hole-in-one’, on the 170 metre par-four fifth hole.
 “I started off with four good solid pars,” John William told The Mayo News. “I hit a three-wood off the fifth tee. It was a good shot and it landed just short of the green and it rolled on to the green. It rolled up towards the pin and gently dropped into the hole.”
John William said he was trying to act cool, but he was really happy.  
“I fist-bumped my playing partners and then I reacted a bit with my dad,” he smiled.
John William had eagles on the 14th and 15th holes, as well as five birdies.
The tees on the course are moved forward for the teenagers but that doesn’t diminish John William’s outstanding performance.
The youngster said he’ll probably save the ball and put it on the shelf.
“I was allowed to keep the scorecard so I’ll be putting that somewhere safe too.”
In August, John William was crowned the overall champion in the Flogas Irish Junior Open Golf Summer Series, claiming the prestigious Gary Player Trophy in a 500-strong field.
Earlier in the summer his victory in the Irish-staged US Kids tournament qualifies him to play in the World Championships later this year in Pinehurst in North Carolina.
He also holds the ‘Order of Merit’ – top spot in the Irish Kids Golf.
John William takes to Ballyhaunis Golf Course every weekday morning before school and plays a round. At weekends, he has a lie-in until 8am and then chills for a couple of hours, before practising on his home golf simulator and putting green.
“It’s a SkyTrak Simulator,” John William explained. “It has a driving range, you can aim for greens or hit realistic shots on to fairways. You can also play realistic rounds of golf on the simulator, it has over 150,000 courses on it.”
John William still prefers to be on the course, and he is full of praise for the Irish Junior Golf Tour and the US Kids Tour.
“They have had a huge influence on my game,” he said. “When you play the longer courses all you’re hitting are drivers and woods. But in the Junior Tour and the Kids Tour, you’re hitting drivers and irons and it’s more fun and more competitive, and it’s better for your game and more enjoyable.”
John William started playing golf nine years ago and has received huge encouragement from his father, John Snr.  That encouragement includes taking the first year student at Ballyhaunis Community School to tournaments all over the country.
“It’s costly, but we take it day by day and week by week,” John told The Mayo News.
Given the success story of the young Ballyhaunis golfer, it’s a wonder he hasn’t attracted major sponsorship.
“We did get some sponsorship from The Big Red Barn last summer,”  said John Snr. “But we are always willing to listen to offers.”
Given the talent, skill and dedication of the young man, along with his achievements and his affable nature, John William Burke is a sponsor’s dream.

John Corless


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