Future Masters Experiences an increase in international players writes Jeremy Wise.
A simple philosophy explains why a teenager from Warwick, Bermuda, found himself playing in the 70th annual Press Thornton Future Masters at the Dothan Country Club this week.
“It’s just believing in yourself that you can (play internationally),” Kenny Leseur said after completing his second round Friday.
Leseur and 11 others Future Masters participants listed international countries as their home when they registered for this year’s event – though several of them likely play in golf academies in southern Florida, said tournament coordinator Angelia Turner. Leseur is one of those, having made the decision to come stateside this past year.
What fuels the decision to cross international borders just to play golf? Leseur and Tegan Miller of Dalsig, South Africa, both note it’s a search for better competition.
“It’s hard in Bermuda because there’s a not a lot of young junior golfers to play with,” Leseur said of the island with a population similar to Dothan’s. “You really have to play tournaments in America if you’re from Bermuda. There are just not many playing.”
Leseur said international players often have to process a tremendous amount of information in a short time when playing in the United States – anything from cultural adjustments to unfamiliar course types. Since golf requires plenty of mental focus, it may take time to overcome the challenges.
“Mostly the first couple of years were about experience,” he said. “Then you start to play a little bit better. It was hard just to come out here and compete because I never had that (level of) competition before.”
Junior golf’s greats have several tournament options, but Miller and Leseur visit Dothan each year for reasons both on and off the course.
“It’s just a great field. It’s one of the best tournaments in the world, I think,” Leseur said. “It’s a challenging golf course that is more of a risk/reward course. If you play well enough, you can shoot well, but if you’re off your game, it’s gonna bite. I really enjoy this tournament, enjoy this atmosphere.”