sport

Hull relishing home challenge

Charley Hull admits gaining her breakthrough win as a professional has significantly lifted her confidence ahead of a big couple of weeks for the teenager.

The 18-year-old endured a number of near-misses on the Ladies European Tour last year, finishing runner-up in five consecutive events shortly after turning professional.

But her consistency prompted Liselotte Neumann to make Hull the youngest player in Solheim Cup history, and she played a starring role in Europe's memorable victory in September.

Hull finally earned her first professional victory in Morocco in March, and she then finished in a tie for seventh place at the first major of the season - the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

She is teeing it up at The Buckinghamshire in this week's ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters, where she starts as second favourite behind Australian veteran Karrie Webb.

Hull will then take on the world's elite in next week's Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale, and she is relishing the challenge on home soil.

\"I'm really looking forward to it,\" Hull told Sky Sports News. \"Hopefully the weather will stay good and I feel like my game is in good condition at the moment.

"I have had a few good tournaments over the last couple of months. Winning in Morocco has given me loads of confidence, especially to get that chip off my shoulder.

\"To get that first win and then doing well in America as well in the Kraft Nabisco and a few other events has really boosted my confidence.

\"If I keep hitting greens and hole a few putts this week, I'll be up there on the last day and have a chance to win.\"

Hull is fully aware of the huge expectations of her despite still being only 18 years of age.

She added: \"You've just got to deal with it and forget about it. I'm still very young so I shouldn't have too much expectation on me, even though I have, but I've got to think that in my head. I want to be ruthless and go out there and win every week.\"

Another star attraction at the Denham venue is American Cheyenne Woods, the nice of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.

The 23-year-old also clinched her first professional victory earlier this year, winning in Australia in January, and she is delighted to be part of a world-class field this week.

"I'm really excited. I played here last year and it feels good to be back, so I'm really looking forward to the week," she said.

"It's a great venue for us, and some of the best ladies in the world are playing here this week. The course is beautiful and the weather has been great.

"It's very tough, there's a lot of great golfers here and a lot of good competition. You have the legends like Karrie Webb and Laura Davies, but there's the youngsters like Charley Hull and Minjee Lee, who is the number one amateur in the world."

Woods also believes the win in Australia has helped establish herself as an elite player in her own right rather than being known simply as "Tiger's niece".

"It was great," she added. "For me personally it was self-validation of what I'm able to achieve, and it's only the beginning. It was great to get my year started that way and it's great to be back here on the Ladies European Tour.

The Ladies European Tour are offering a 50% discount on tickets for the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters, which starts on Th ursday. Simply enter the promotional code SKYLEM6 when you book online at http;//tickets.sky.com/golf to receive half-price admission.

See how Charley and Cheyenne get on at The Buckinghamshire at the weekend. Highlights start at 5pm on Saturday on Sky Sports 4.