Teenage internationals plan US college careers

Eloise Healey

Four of England’s leading young golfers will be heading to the USA this summer to take up places at American universities.

The teenage internationals who will continue their studies while developing their golf are: Eloise Healey of Lancashire (pictured top), Matty Lamb of Northumberland, Jamie Li of Somerset and Rhys Nevin-Wharton of Cheshire

Derek Hughes, the England Golf boys’ manager, commented: “I am so pleased to see that these players will be continuing in higher education as well as progressing their golf. I know they are looking forward to following the footsteps of the many England Golf players who have been successful in college golf.”

Among those they follow are world number four Bronte Law (Bramhall), a student and four-time winner at UCLA. Internationals Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough/Florida International) and Tomasz Anderson (Brocket Hall/Jacksonville State), who is now a professional, both have seven college wins; while Ben Taylor (Walton Heath) holed the winning putt to seal Louisiana State’s victory in last year’s NCAA Championship.

Here, the teenagers talk about their reasons for studying in the USA:

Eloise Healey, 18, of West Lancashire Golf Club was in the 2015 England team which won the girls’ Home Internationals for the eighth successive time. She will take up a place at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

She said: “It is a great opportunity to continue to develop my golf and compete at a high level, especially during the winter months. Having seen many older players go down this route, it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do. I hope to rise to the challenge of college tournaments and achieve successful results as well as experience from competing on a variety of courses.

“Academically, I’m aiming for a degree in maths or physics and I think that university in the USA will provide the support to help me to balance this alongside my golf.

“I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve received from England Golf which has helped to develop my game and contributed towards me gaining this scholarship. I’m really looking forward to representing my university and country over the next few years alongside a great team, as well as gaining life experiences and independence.”

Matty Lamb, 17, of Hexham Golf Club secured a string of high finishes in 2015 events, including fourth place in the Peter McEvoy Trophy. He has signed for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“College golf will give me access to world class golfing facilities and courses and the opportunity to play against some of the best amateur and college players in the world – week in, week out. Golf is generally an individual sport but I’m looking forward to the team aspects of college golf and at the end of the four years I hope I’ll be ready to be a professional golfer.

“My mentor and coach is Andy Paisley whose brother, Chris, played college golf and is now on the European Tour – and has retained his card three out of the last four years.  I’ve spent a lot of time with Chris and have been inspired by him – particularly by his work ethic and how he handles himself on tour.  If I can work as hard as Chris I could be playing against him in future years!

“College will also provide me with the opportunity to gain a valuable academic qualification.  I haven’t chosen a major yet – but it will be something to complement my aspirations as a golfer.”

Jamie Li, 18, of Bath Golf Club won the 2015 Telegraph BMW Junior Championship. He is joining Florida State University.

“I finished my A Levels in August 2015 but decided to take a year off before returning to education, which was definitely the best decision for me. It has allowed me to concentrate on some specific areas with my coach, Ben Lloyd at Cumberwell Park, and mature as both an individual and a golfer.

“I was lucky enough to be selected by England Golf, along with Matty, to play in the Junior Players tournament at TPC Sawgrass in 2014. It was a fantastic tournament which was also attended by lots of the college golf coaches and I kept in contact with some as I felt it was important to keep my options open. At that stage I hadn’t really decided whether university in America was for me.

“As I approached the end of my A Levels I began to consider the American route and went out to visit two universities in Florida. The coaches at Florida State, Trey Jones and Robert Duck, are fantastic and the facilities and support you get are unbelievable, so for me it wasn’t a difficult decision. I will get to play golf against the greatest young players from all over the world and continue my education and get a degree at the same time.

“Harry Ellis* is at Florida State so I have been in contact with him and it’s great to hear how it has been a success for him. I’m really looking forward to joining the squad in August.”

*Harry Ellis of Meon Valley in Hampshire became the youngest-ever English amateur champion when he won the title as a 16-year-old in 2012.

Rhys Nevin-Wharton, of Sandiway Golf Club, celebrates his 18th birthday this week. He had a series of high finishes in 2015 including third place in the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters. He is going to the University of Tennessee.

“I have decided to go to the US because of the opportunity to progress my golf game and play high-level competitive golf all year round. Also I can gain experience from playing on the different grasses and different conditions over there.

“It is also important to me to get a degree so that I have a back-up for my golf career. I’m hoping to win multiple events over there, and I’d like to make an “All American” team.

“I was influenced by the number of PGA Tour players that attended US universities and also by older England boy players who have gone over there and been successful.”

Image © Leaderboard Photography