AN eight-year-old Wirral golfer has finished in the top 20 of a competition against the best junior players in the world.

Last month, Buster Airey, competed in the World Junior Golf Championships in Marbella, Spain, where he came up against 250 of the world's top young golfers, all of whom have to qualify to play at the tournament. 

Across the three days, Buster shot rounds of 89, 85 and 80 to see him ranked 17th in the world at the Villa Padierna Resort.

Buster is a member of Heswall Golf Club and attends St Peters C of E Primary School in Heswall.

"Buster started playing golf when he was three," said proud mum, Zoe Airey. "He started almost by accident - his sister was quite good with a golf club so we took her to one of the sessions at Heswall Golf Club and had Buster with us.

"The coach said he could have a go and he turned out to have a really good swing so he was allowed to stay for the session and began to go every week where he has been coached by Jason Dransfield ever since.

"He's always been very into sport and he'll give any sport a go but golf seems to be the one that fits naturally."

Buster was able to travel to the Championship in his half-term break, arriving in Spain with dad, Colin.

"We've always paid for everything from the travel to the accommodation and it is expensive," said Zoe. "A lot of the junior golfers have local businesses sponsoring them and that's something we're beginning to look at. 

"We're lucky that at the moment he's doing really well but I would hate him to feel any pressure because he just loves playing golf.

"We heard a few horror stories from the tournament with parenting styles so I just want him to keep enjoying it."

Zoe said living and playing golf in Wirral was ideal for Buster's development.

She said: "He had the time of his life going to The Open last year and there are so many lovely courses here that he's spoilt. Not all golf courses the juniors play on are like Heswall and Hoylake.

"He will play on the British Junior Tour this year and he's looking at playing in the Irish Open and the French Open.

"He gets a bit of mickey taking from his mates who say that golf is boring and is for old men and he did say he didn't want to play anymore at one point but we got to the bottom of it and it was a silly comment that was made at school.

"I think this tournament has shown him that he can spend half term in Spain playing golf and he's made some really lovely friends in the last 12 months."

Buster's progress has had other advantages for the mum of three.

Zoe added: "Since he's come back he's been no trouble going to bed - I think he's absolutely wiped out!

"Playing 18 hole rounds of golf is definitely a winner if you want your child to go to bed."