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Iona Stephen’s career in golf might have taken a different path to what she first anticipated, but her playing days might not be completely behind her.
In 2016, the Sky Sports commentator made her debut on the LET and a future in the game as a professional was looking bright.
That was until her career was quickly curtailed by a serious wrist injury, as doctors claimed she would never play golf again.
But after several years of living the dream in the media, Stephen has her sights set on making a miraculous return to competition, for one event in particular.
Speaking to bunkered, the 31-year-old revealed she has a big goal in her sights in the summer of 2024.
Stephen said: “Next year, the AIG Women’s Open, the tournament that inspired me to actually play golf, is at St Andrews.
“I will try and qualify for that. It’s not because I want to play full-time again or compete on the tour. But it’s a dream of mine to play in an AIG Women’s Open.
“For me, it’s the one everyone wants to play in, especially as a British person. I have got arthritis in my wrist, but I feel like I’ve found a way I can play. Life’s too short not to give it a go.”
The Scot, who enjoyed a remarkable rise in golf, turned professional after just four years of playing the sport. In that time, she went from complete novice to a plus-four handicap, before going pro.
But, as she explained in the December 2023 issue of bunkered, that quick rise came with a cost, as she developed wrist pain that ultimately meant she could no longer play professionally.
However, Stephen has since been able to play golf, albeit not competitively and she wants to make a sensational return next summer.
Having not competed in Britain’s only major championship, the chance to compete at the Home of Golf, where she went to university, is one Stephen doesn’t want to miss.
The prestigious event will take place on the Old Course at St Andrews for only the third time in its history.
Since leaving her playing days behind, Stephen has regularly been on the grounds of golf’s most famous venues.
Walking away from competitive golf meant moving into a new career in the game, as she transitioned into a role without the clubs.
You never know what’s around the corner, so keep on going xx pic.twitter.com/yToMR1InFl
— Iona Stephen (@Iona_Stephen) November 28, 2023
She added: “My experience in golf was very short, a lot shorter than I wanted it to be. Ultimately, I played for a year and a half as a professional.
“It was a very difficult time. It was one of the lowest points of my life. It took me quite a long time to get back on my feet and work out what was next.
“I’ve been working in the media for four years now and it’s been a really steep learning curve.
“The great thing about life is that when one door closes very often another one is just waiting to spring open and that was the case for me.”
Iona Stephen was featured in the December 2023 issue of bunkered. You can read her full interview in the magazine and you can subscribe here.
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