England boys’ squad player Frank Kennedy has spoken of the unique opportunity he was given to play golf with Donald Trump and pick the brains of Jack Nicklaus.
Kennedy goes into this week’s McGregor Trophy eager to impress – and with an interesting tale to tell from his winter training schedule.
The 15-year-old is based for most of the year in Jupiter, Florida – the home location for some of the world’s top golfers – and has grown accustomed to seeing stars of the game around his home course and practice range.
But back in February he was left surprised when a club official at Trump Jupiter teed him up with two of the most famous faces on the planet!
First of all, he was given the chance to play with the 45th president of the United States – and then discovered the greatest champion in golf was joining them for company.
It’s fair to say not many of the field at this week’s McGregor – an event for under 16 boys – have played a round in such surreal circumstances.
“I was at the course and the director of golf came down and said I’ve got something to ask you,” revealed Kennedy, who is also a member at Prestbury Golf Club in Cheshire.
“He said would you like to play with Mr President tomorrow?
“I didn’t think he was serious, so I said yeah, of course.
“The next day I turned up and saw all the security!
“We teed off and a few holes later Jack Nicklaus turned up to join us.
“Jack didn’t play but I was just listening to what he had to say about all the events.
“He told me: ‘I’m the biggest choker in golf because of the number of seconds I have in majors!’
“He’s the nicest guy ever and some of the stories were great.
“One thing I took on board was this: when coming down the stretch stick to being yourself – don’t worry about what anyone is doing.
“Jack told me ‘they are all so good they could hole a shot at any time – so focus on yourself only and do as well as you can.’”
Nicklaus may have finished as runner-up 19 times in major championships, but he also had the class to win another 18 of them and go down in history as the most successful male golfer of all time.
Kennedy may have cause to use some of the lessons learned at this week’s event in Surrey.
The youngster will then focus on a hectic spell of championships including the Carris Trophy, the English Amateur Championship, the British Boys’ Championship and the Brabazon Trophy.
So far this year, Kennedy has played in the Scottish and Amateur Championships as well as the St Andrews Links trophy.
And he is eager to keep on improving under the watchful eye of coach Rob Watts.
“I’ve got the distance,” admitted Kennedy who spent last week working on all aspects of his game at the National Golf Centre at Woodhall Spa.
“The courses in America are longer than over here so coming back here the courses appear shorter to me.
“I’ve also been doing lots of work on my putting – that let me down in a few events.
“Last year I worked on driving because that let me down in the men’s events.
“I pretty much focus on golf in America and I do online schooling. I practise all morning and play matches with mates in the afternoon.”
The McGregor Trophy is a 72-hole stroke play championship with all competitors playing 18 holes on each of the first two days before a cut.
The top 40 and those tied for 40th place progress to play 36 holes on the final day.
Past winners include Justin Rose, Edoardo Molinari and Oliver Fisher.
“This is my first time in the McGregor,” said Kennedy.
“But I played Camberley Heath last week and I loved the course.”