COULD pint-sized putter Drew Mackinn follow in the illustrious footsteps of Ryder Cup golfing heroes like Rory McIlroy and Hampshire's Justin Rose?

The younger certainly proved a dab-hand with the driver when he put in a par-fect performance in a prestigious competition.

The eight-year-old, from Weston, Southampton, has been crowned champion in the final of golf's National Skills Challenge, beating off more than 6,000 other hopefuls in the process.

Drew, who plays at Southampton City Golf Course, regularly practised after school and for ten hours a day at weekends in order to secure the title, which involved putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play and full swing challenges.

Southampton City professional Matt Robins says his protégé is capable of emulating the European greats who retained the Ryder Cup last week in such dramatic fashion.

He told the Daily Echo: “The dedication he has shown and the hours of practise he and his dad Andy have done has shown what is possible when hard work and commitment is implemented.

“Drew is a fantastic little golfer with superb skills, his knowledge of golf is brilliant and his etiquette on the course is impeccable.

“He is only eight so it is a long way off, but I think that if he stays with it and maintains his motivation he can do anything he wants. If he keeps his sharpness around the greens I think there is no reason why he can't turn pro.

“He has definitely got the talent to make it at the highest level.”

The Weston Park Junior pupil, who turns nine in November, counts Ryder Cup starts Luke Donald and Hampshire's Justin Rose as his role models.

Describing his own title-winning performance, the young sportsman revealed: ““I felt good. We kind of knew when I hit the last shot that I had won.

“I think about gold when I'm at school and when I get home I like practicing.

“I would like to be a pro golfer one day.”