Golf: Carly Booth still aiming to be world number one

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Carly Booth is still aiming to be world number one

If it came down to self-belief, Carly Booth would already be world number one.

But, after a tough couple of years, the global ranking of Scottish golf's child prodigy is a lowly 441.

Now aged 22, she's ready for a re-launch, determined to climb to the pinnacle of her sport and confound the sceptics.

However, she also has another mission - to help her brother compete at the Special Olympics next year.

Booth burst on to the Scottish golfing scene in precocious fashion, becoming the youngest ladies' club champion in Britain at the age of 11.

Two years later, she was asked in a newspaper interview where she saw herself in 10 years' time.

Her answer? World number one.

It's now nine years since that youthful declaration of ambition and unbridled optimism. Speaking at Gleneagles, does she stand by it?

"Definitely - golf has been my life since I was eight years old," comes the reply.

"It's all I wanted to do, be the best in my sport. It's still something I'm pushing for.

"We all peak at different times and some of the best golfers in the world didn't peak until they were in their 30s. I still feel I have time on my side."

Carly Booth
"I'm 22 and full of life and full of energy and ready to keep going and working hard. I feel I have so many more wins in me."

She certainly had a solid enough start to her professional career. At 17, she was the youngest Scot to turn professional on the European Tour and she enjoyed success in 2012, winning two tournaments.

But the journey from child star to adult success is notoriously difficult. Her form has slipped in the past two years.

And, while there's never a sense of defeat or self-pity with Booth, there is an awareness of failing to meet high expectations.

"I think I'm guilty of putting that extra pressure on myself on top of the expectations I feel I have from others," she says.

"I'm trying to learn to be happy with myself and do the best I can do.

"I know my potential and I'm not fulfilling it at the moment, but I think - stay positive and keep working hard and hopefully it's all going to work out exactly how I want it."

Booth's social media posts are full of pictures taken with celebrities at golf events, but she denies that meeting the likes of Jessica Alba, Morgan Freeman and Zinedine Zidane is a distraction.

"I think these are the perks that come from playing golf," she says.

"I'm very blessed to be able to go to these world pro-ams, celebrity pro-ams where I can meet such amazing people.

"Actually, it drives me to do better in my sport, because it brings me more opportunities."

She also recently posed naked in a sports magazine, something she describes as "an amazing experience" - she certainly has no qualms about putting herself out there.

"You always get negativity, whatever you do," she asserts.

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The Booth family have a proud tradition of sport

"I feel there's always more positives than negatives.

"On my Instagram and Twitter, I'm just trying to be myself, show everyone what I can do.

"I was a gymnast for six years, so you'll sometimes see videos of me doing back-flips and things, which is just part of me. It's just who I am."

She certainly seems utterly undaunted by the prospect of the sporting challenge in front of her. Indeed, there seems to be a general sense of joie de vivre hard-wired into the Booth family DNA.

Her dad, Wallace, is an autobiography waiting to happen. A talented footballer in his youth, he became a Commonwealth wrestling silver medallist. He also worked as a bouncer at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where hanging out with The Beatles was just part of the job.

Eventually, life took him to running a farm in Comrie and he built a golf course for his three kids.

Wallace Junior and Carly turned professional, but the family sporting dynasty does not end there.

Carly's other brother, Paul, is a sporting success story in his own right.

Born with Down's Syndrome, he has competed as a swimmer and a wrestler. He has now shifted his focus to power-lifting and aims to compete at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles in 2015.

However, funding for British Special Olympic athletes is sparse and his sister has come up with a plan to raise funds.

She adds: "I'm going to do a skydive on 15 December in Dubai after my last tournament.

Carly Booth
Booth plans to skydive to raise funds for her brother to compete at the Special Olympics in 2015

"I'm very excited. It's going to be worth it if we can raise some good money.

"Every time I'm on a plane, I always love the window seats. I have a completely different thought in my mind when I now look out a window!

"I'm just trying not to think about it, but I know on the day I'm going to have the biggest butterflies ever."

Paul wants to do the skydive too, although his sister is not sure his mum will let him.

In the brother-sister interaction, there are glimpses of the family spirit; a cheerful, positive attitude geared to pushing boundaries, taking on challenges - and having fun.

But world number one? Really?

Booth adds: "I'm 22 and full of life and full of energy and ready to keep going and working hard.

"I feel I have so many more wins in me."

Given the way she's tumbled down the world rankings, it seems a tall order.

But she's still young, especially in golfing terms; Tiger Woods only turned professional when he was 20.

Her career might appear to be in freefall, but anyone who is willing to throw themselves out of a plane to help someone they love clearly has the character to turn things around.

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