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Sky Sports Golf presenter, but I played another sport as a child. My pro tour dreams were crushed at age 25.

IF you watch golf on TV, chances are you are familiar with Iona Stephen.

The Scot, born just outside St Andrews, is a regular on Sky Sports covering the DP World Tour, the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour.

Iona Stephen has lived quite the life since becoming one of the faces of Sky Sports Golf

She revealed all on a recent appearance on the Golf Life YouTube channel

Her presenting talents have seen her undertake reporting duties on the course, interviewing the sport‘s biggest names and host prizegiving ceremonies.

But she only arrived on the media scene somewhat by accident – and after a crushing injury that ruined her chances of becoming a professional herself.

And that’s just only picking up a club at the age of 19.

The 31-year-old actually played hockey growing up and wasn’t too interested in golf, despite being born only just a pitch and putt away from the Home of Golf.

She revealed all in a recent appearance on the Golf Life YouTube channel with Tubes and Jimmy Bullard, where she spoke candidly about the randomness of the position she finds herself in today and the emotional pain caused by her injury, not just the physical.

Stephen went from novice to pro in the space of four years but her life came crashing back down again within 18 months.

He said: “I didn’t play golf growing up.

“I didn’t start playing until I was 19.

“Long story short, I played field hockey internationally and I got involved in this sport transfer scheme which was called Gold for Glasgow.

“It was targeted at athletes that played elite team sports and they were trying to pull athletes out (of the team sports) to increase Scotland‘s medal chances at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“I went along to the selection process, and growing up I played a lot of squash, so I had known the individual sports and I think I wanted that individual challenge again.

“I put my hand up and was one of three that got selected.

“They sat me down and showed me a list of sports they felt I had the attributes for.

“I looked down the list and thought, ‘Maybe this, maybe this’.

“But then just by chance I went to watch the Women‘s Open at Carnoustie, and I hadn’t even seen a lot of golf growing up, even in Scotland.

Stephen grew up playing hockey and squash rather than golf

But since focusing on golf she’s made a career for herself

“I just wasn’t exposed to it, and I think it’s very telling about how important it is to get kids in Scotland exposed to it and I think it’s better now when you’ve got people like Catriona Matthew.

“I played what was available to me at school, I didn’t have golf I had hockey and athletics so I did those sports.

“I stood there watching the Women’s Open and I remember seeing Paula Creamer and a Scottish girl called Kylie Walker (now Henry), and I was like ‘Why am I not doing this? They’re hitting a ball really far, I love doing that. They’re walking around in really cool fashion, I love that. This is amazing!’

“So I ran back to the organisers and said I know golf isn’t on the list of sports for the Games but I’m begging you to help me because I think I can be good at this.

“I’d never even really hit a golf ball before! It was a big jump and everyone thought I was mad.

“And four years later? I turned pro.

“Then, a year later I got my injury.”

Stephen was left heartbroken when doctors told her just 18 months into her professional career that she would no longer be able to play golf again after developing a wrist injury.

She was to be diagnosed with arthritis in her wrist, and after being given the devastating news she considers walking away from the sport altogether.

Indeed, her first thought was far from doing anything to try and prove the docs wrong.

She explained: “I thought it was done. I thought, ‘I can’t believe this whole part of my life is over’.

“It was truly one of the hardest years of my life.

“I felt sorry for myself for a while and then I realised there was so much more to life and so much more to do.

“I retrained, got a personal training qualification, I started coaching spinning classes.

“I just gave myself some time to think about what was next.

“I had to go totally back to the drawing board.

“And on a rainy day, totally randomly, I got a call from IMG asking me to go and screen test for this golfing show called Golfing World.

“So I learnt the script, went along and did a screen test, I didn’t tell any of my family because I thought ‘as if I’m gonna get a presenting job?’

“Two weeks later I was on a plane to Mexico for the World Matchplay and my first interview was Phil Mickelson. And I was just like, ‘what is going on?’

“I found it really hard being back near golf again so after I did the trip I said probably not, I couldn’t play, this is too hard. I wanted to do something totally different.

“But the guys I met there really encouraged me and asked me to do another trip and it was the best decision I ever made.

“I’ve had the best four years since working in the media. It’s been wild.

“I pinch myself all the time.

“The morale of the story is, when bad things happen in your life, try the best you can to get good people around you, give yourself some time, and then just keep going. Because you never know what’s just around the corner.

“I think it has all worked out the way it was meant to.”

After taking time away from the sport, her gradual return to playing has been aided not just by the start of her YouTube channel, On the Road with Iona, but by little nuggets of information she’s gleaned from being in close contact with the world’s best golfers and coaches.

She said: “I spoke to a lot of experts, I’d sneak up to players and coaches and be like ‘could you have a look at my swing here?’, I’d tell them I have a really sore wrist, I wasn’t strong enough.

“I started working on a new release pattern, and slowly and slowly, I feel like I don’t hit it as far but I hit it straighter than I ever did.”

Stephen anoints her hosting of the presentation ceremony at the 2023 Ryder Cup as the greatest moment of her career.

She also has another dream in mind.

And that’s to qualify and play in the Women’s Open in her home town of St Andrews later this year.

“The Women’s Open, the tournament that inspired me to actually play golf, is at St Andrews,” she told bunkered.

“I will try and qualify for that. It’s not because I want to play full-time again or compete on the tour. But it’s a dream of mine to play in a Women’s Open.

“For me, it’s the one everyone wants to play in, especially as a British person. I have got arthritis in my wrist, but I feel like I’ve found a way I can play. Life’s too short not to give it a go.”

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page