There can’t be many better ways to celebrate your ninth birthday than meeting one of your sporting heroes so imagine what it is like to get up close and personal with four of them.
Durham’s Aaron Mansfield found out just how it felt at the BMW PGA Championship where he met up with Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and a trio of major champions Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer in a real birthday surprise.
Aaron journeyed to Wentworth from the family home in Stanley, Co Durham with his dad Gavin as a birthday treat but he had no idea what was in store as he and his dad waited to be picked up by taxi.
A car driven by Beef pulled up and he shouts: “Alright boys, you looking for a lift?” The smile on Aaron’s face is as wide as the Tyne as he jumps in.
Beef then hands Aaron a golf cap as a present. They drive on and stop to pick up 2013 US Open winner and Olympic champion Justin Rose.
Aaron’s face is a picture and when Rose says: “Beef, I forgot to mention mate, I told Henrik that I’d pick him up this morning.”
Aaron clearly cannot believe his luck as he is handed Stenson’s Claret Jug and Rose’s Olympic gold medal to hold with the duo either side of him in the back of the car.
Aaron’s final surprise is Martin Kaymer meeting him as he arrives at Wentworth and taking him to have a putt on the 18th green.
Aaron is heard to say as he and his father walk off the green “That is the best thing that you’ve ever got me.”
Back home in the North East, Aaron’s father Gavin said: “When he said that it just melted my heart.
“Aaron also got to meet Alan Shearer – he’s a huge Newcastle United fan – and it just made his birthday complete. He had no idea any of it was going to happen.
“He’s a huge golf fan and plays all the time. We both play at George Washington Golf Club and Aaron has been playing about 20 months and he’s got a handicap of 14.
“He’s left handed and just wants to be a professional golfer. He knows all about the game and the players. We went to the Open at Troon last year and he got to see Henrik winning the Claret Jug and Beef gave him a yardage book and he’s a big fan of Justin and Martin as well.”
The Tour came up trumps after Aaron’s father got in touch with them asking if they could do something special for his son’s birthday and Beef said: “I heard about doing it about a week before. I said, ‘yeah, let’s do it. I’m in.’
“It was really good. Watching it back was good. I was driving so I couldn’t really see his face. All I got was the more guys that got in, the quieter he got. When I watched it, and saw his face and his dad, it was wicked. I love doing things like that and making people’s day and giving back.”