Teen Event Features International Flavor
During Wednesday's opening ceremony for the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship, moderator Casey Bierer asked how many golfers had ever shot a round of par or better.
One of the 25 or so raising a hand in the Pinecrest High School auditorium was Marco Antonio Fratini of Sanoj Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. The 16-year-old bears a resemblance to one of the golfers he is inspired by, Camilo Villegas of Columbia, currently ranked 13th in the world.
This is Fratini's second trip to Pinehurst for the event. As last year, he is accompanied by his parents, a grandmother and two sisters who came from Spain to join them.
Speaking through an interpreter, his sister Sara, he talked about playing on courses in his home country that don't have any grass.
"He loves the golf course and environment and excitement of coming here," Sarah said, replying for her brother.
More than a quarter of the 450 boys and girls in the tournament that runs through Sunday come from 25 different foreign countries making this truly a world event. The most represented places are Mexico (20 golfers), Columbia (15), Germany (13), and Canada and Panama with 10 each.
At the tender age of 13, Rebecca McGeehan of Monchengladbach, Germany, is playing in her fifth U.S. Kids Golf tournament and first in the teen division. Accompanied by her mother and father, she said she enjoys meeting people from all over the world. She has kept in touch with most of the golfers she has played with in past tournaments.
"When I first started, I thought I was pretty good," she said. "Then I came here and there were so many good players. It kind of brought me back to earth. There are so many players better than me, but I think that's good. It makes me try really hard to be just as good as them.
"I'd love to be a professional and this is kind of helping me."
Asked if she thinks about playing college golf in the United States, she said, "I'd love to do that one day."
The local golfers participating in the tournament that began on Thursday on Pinehurst 2, 6 and 8 for the boys and Pine Needles for the girls, include: Matthew Ritch (Laurinburg), Edward Thomas III (Cameron) and Hailey Crider (Pinehurst). Tee times can be found via a link to U.S. Kids Golf at www.Pinehurst.com.
Contact Charlie Bergmann by e-mail at email@example.com.
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