Young Rocky ace making his mark on fairways
GOLF: Rockhampton's Eli Parsons is going to have something pretty special to share with his classmates at his next show and tell at school.
The seven-year-old played a decisive role in Australia's victory in the recent US Kids Golf Trans-Tasman Cup on the Gold Coast.
The invitational event brings together the top two players from Australia and New Zealand in age groups from five to 15.
Eli and his Aussie teammates reigned supreme on the fairways of the challenging Palmer Colonial Golf Course to lift the coveted trophy.
As a reward, each member of the team gets the Cup for two weeks and Eli cannot wait to take it to school and share the story.
The little champion is making a big impression in the game that he started playing competitively just two years ago.
In December, he finished 15th in his age group at the US Kids Golf World Championships in Malaysia.
Fellow Rocky golfer Riley Milliner also contested the international event, finishing 15th in the eight years division.
The two boys have since been invited to the European Masters in Scotland in May.
Eli said he loved playing the game, being out on the course and making new friends.
His favourite club is his driver, which he calls the "big dog”.
Dad Geoff - a pretty handy golfer himself, playing off a handicap of three - said people in the game were starting to recognise his son's ability.
"He's obviously got something given he's being invited to all of these things,” Geoff said.
"He is really dedicated, and practises two or three times a week.
"His concentration has improved out of sight and his putting has got a lot better recently.”
Eli's next event is the Australian Age Division on the Gold Coast in six weeks as he eyes off a start in the world championships in the US in 2020.
Geoff often caddies for Eli and was impressed with his performance at the Trans-Tasman Cup.
He said Eli was a late inclusion in the national team after Isaac Riches, who is probably the best in Australia in his age group, was unable to play.
"Eli had big boots to fill but he did really well,” Geoff said.
"He played the highest-ranked New Zealand player, Jonny Zhou, and beat him in matchplay three up.
"That was a pretty big achievement, from a ring-in to beating their best player.
"I was definitely a proud father that day. On the last hole, he drained a birdie putt from 15m and was jumping around the green like Tiger Woods.”
Geoff said he was happy to see where golf takes Eli.
"He's seven years old and he's already played for Australia and at a world championships so he's accomplished more than most.
"The biggest thing is to make sure he keeps enjoying the game, and that he can still be a kid.”