A trip to Disney could lead to a golf fairytale for a young girl from Pontyclun

IT was supposed to be a family holiday in Florida visiting the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and spotting her favourite Walt Disney characters.

Instead Ffion Tynan saw an advert to try out golf and wanted to spend a couple of days hitting balls instead.

Now the 16-year-old schoolgirl at Y Pant Comprehensive in Pontyclun is looking forward to taking up the offer of a golf scholarship at the University of Arkansas, one of the top colleges in the United States.

From where she hopes to graduate to the LPGA Tour and battle for Major honours with the world's best.

"I'd just turned eight and we were on holiday visiting all the Disney parks," said Tynan. "I saw an advert at the resort for golf coaching and I wanted to try it out.

"I hadn't really picked up a golf club before but I went to the camp and had a little go. After I'd hit a few balls they asked me if I'd ever played the game before and I said no.

Ffion Tynan

"They coached me a little bit for the next couple of days and when it was over they told my parents the first thing they should do when we got home was for me to join a club and I did at Pontypridd. That's where it all started."

Tynan has progressed to become one of Wales' top golfers while combining her school studies.

Aged 13, she was crowned European junior golf champion for her age group in an event in Scotland which drew 600 competitors from 50 countries.

This year she has already competed in tournaments, several of them against senior players, in the USA, Portugal, Italy, France, Ireland, Sweden and Germany.

Back home, she finished third at the Welsh Ladies Amateur Championship in May as well as winning her County Championship title after going 8 below par in the final round.

And at the Nizels GC in Kent last month she won the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters title by a massive five shots.

The competition, named after Britain's boxing legend and huge golf fan, is one of the top events in the UK for under 18s. Tynan had two of her fellow Welsh golfers, Harriet Lockley and Darcey Harry, finish behind her in the top four showing the growing strength in depth of the sport in Wales.

Tynan's progression and potential has earned her a scholarship at the University of Arkansas which she will take up in 2020/21.

Getting a scholarship in the highly-competitive university programme in the USA is hard enough with golfers from all over the world trying for similar. Doing so at one of the top colleges in the NCAA system is even harder. But Tynan has done that.

"I'd been looking into my options for 18 months and sent my details to a few colleges," said Tynan, who now plays out of the Minchinhampton course in Gloucestershire and the Vale Resort.

"Last year I was playing in Miami and I was spotted by someone from TAG College Placement in the US who have been helping.

"On another trip to the States I had a look around the University of Arkansas which is a really fantastic college programme. I fell in love with the college, the campus, the town and the programme.

"I really can't wait to become a Razorback. It's been amazing, just to get the opportunity to have a scholarship is incredible. I've worked really hard on my game the last couple of years just trying to improve on different aspects and be able to hopefully get the scholarship and commit early.

"It is like a big weight off my shoulders and I didn't have to look into colleges during GCSEs this year.

"I go to school like anybody normally does then I will play golf afterwards or maybe do some weights in the gym then go back and finish my homework.

"The school is really supportive and as I play for the Welsh team it's good for them. They have been there for the start, when I've needed to be away for tournaments they've made sure I was able to catch up on my homework.

"Getting a scholarship is highly competitive. There are a wide range of Div 1 colleges, about 250 I think, but Arkansas is currently in the top 10. My aim was to get something between top 50 and top 10.

"My parents are really excited. It is a really great opportunity and they are really happy with the choice I made."

Tynan's long-term aim is joining the pro ranks with Arkansas having seen several of its golfers make that progression to the senior ranks.

But before that Tynan would love to compete on home soil when Wales hosts the 2020 Curtis Cup, the amateur ladies team trophy, in Conwy next June.

"The Curtis Cup would be a brilliant experience and I'm hoping I'm playing well enough to get into the team especially with it being in my home country," she added.

"Maria Fassi was the NCAA Player of the Year last year when at Arkansas and she has gone on to get a LPGA card.

"That is my long term aim, to be playing the game professionally."

And all from spurning the chance to meet Mickey Mouse!