The Big Interview: Golf starlet Joe Pagdin talks Ian Poulter, living in America and his aims of becoming a pro

Joe Pagdin.
Joe Pagdin.
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There's not too many folk from Sheffield who end up as best pals with superstar golfers.

But that's the case for Joe Pagdin.

The 16-year-old now resides in Orlando, Florida and is well on his way to achieving his ambition to become a professional.

Earlier this year he competed in the Youth Olympics, representing his native Great Britain, and in the next few years he will be attending the prestigious University of Florida which he hopes will set him on his way to the pro ranks.

But the aim to become a golfer in the first place came after a chance meeting with Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter a few years back.

"One day in Orlando me and my dad were in a sandwich shop," Pagdin told the Star.

"The next minute a red Ferrari pulls up and Ian Poulter pulls up and comes in.

"My dad knew Ian at the time and I was introduced to him.

"That night I said to my dad, 'how do I become like Ian?' and he said 'become a professional golfer'.

"That's what made me play golf.

"That night I took golf more seriously, taking regular lessons and entering tournaments.

"After that we joined the same club where Ian and I live.

"Now, we're close friends and I spend time practising with him most days.

"If that hadn't happened then I don't think I would be where I am here today."

What followed over the course of the next few years was a fascination with golf for Pagdin.

He previously loved playing football but soon knocked that on the head and concentrated on his putting.

And that dedication has paid off.

Pagdin is currently ranked 75 in he World Amateur Golf Rankings and is also a member of the England boys' team.

But his appearance at the Youth Olympics earlier this year remains a proud moment for the youngster.

Sadly his time in Buenos Aires was blighted by food poisoning.

But despite that sour ending, he still maintains that the experience was a pleasure.

"When I got the call to say that I'd been selected, It was a dream come true," he added.

"Leading up to the event, I treated it like any other tournament really.

"Spending two weeks in the Olympic village with 3,000 other athletes from different countries and cultures.

"It's something that I won't forget.

"Unfortunately I had food poisoning in the second round and as per the Olympic rules, once they treated me I wasn't allowed to compete for 24 hours so I was forced to withdraw from the individual event when I was in contention at that point for a medal.

"That was obviously heartbreaking but there wasn't much I could do.

"It was the coolest experience I've ever had."

Pagdin, whose family moved to the States when he was aged just four, regularly plays with the likes of Poulter and Major-winning pair Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson on the lawns at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club.

Playing in such esteemed company on a regular basis has undoubtedly helped his form and his ranking reflects that.

He hopes to continue improving and one day be in contention for the prestigious Walker Cup - the amateurs version of the Ryder Cup.

Pagdin said: "Next week I have the Rolex Tournament of Champions, an amateur invitational event.

"Then over Christmas I'm playing in Miami.

"But I've got my eyes on the Walker Cup next year.

"It'd be a stretch to get into that but I definitely want to target the 2021 edition.

"I've got a year-and-a-half left of high school and then I'm committed to the University of Florida.

"They have one of the top programmes in the nation.

"I'm going to put all my effort into that.

"It's important to get a good education because you never know what will happen.

"But my ultimate goal is to turn professional."

Despite living across the pond for most of his life, Pagdin says he still considers himself a Sheffielder.

"I consider myself British through and through," he added.

"I love America and it's a great place to be.

"But I'm Sheffield steel, you know.

"My blood is still back there in England."