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First Female Winner at World Crazy Golf Championships Crowned
The 11th World Crazy Golf Championships was held at a windswept Hastings course on Sunday, with schoolgirl Olivia Prokopova becoming the first woman to win the event.
Prokopova, 18, won by 21 shots to completely decimate the field, adding to her US Masters and US Open minigolf titles.
She was one of only nine female competitors in the 78-strong event, as well as the only female in the top 50. She also picked up the women’s trophy, which shows the lowered expectations for ladies in the competition.
The gender imbalance does little to knock Prokopova, however. She said: "I don't have any problems with that. I get on well with other players, and they're happy for me because they've known me since I was a kid.
"There's no reason why girls can't do as well as men. I practised every day for 15 years, so now I can."
Prokopova held her first putter at the age of three with her father’s influence, who was a fan of American sports, and it was he who encouraged her to enter tournaments to begin with.
She was already an accomplished player by the age of eight, coming third in the World Crazy Golf Championships. Now she practices up to 12 hours a day and even took unofficial leave (known as “bunking off”) from high school so she could attend the competition.
“Maybe I shouldn't take time off school, but this is the big one," Prokopova explained. "If there is any way I can play minigolf professionally in the future, I will."
Surprisingly, Prokopova puts her success down to a new golf ball. In the past, minigolfers brought their own golf balls, which were carried in special thermally controlled bags with varying levels of elasticity to help with rebounds and hazards, but this time around all golfers were given the same golf ball at the World Crazy Golf Championships.
The south of England was beaten and battered by St Jude’s storm, but Serbian Prokopova still managed to get on with business. She added: "I enjoy it. I grew up playing in all sorts of weather – snow, wind, rain. So I'm used to it."