NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Greg Norman Academy Junior Invitational brought over more than 50 international students from 20 different countries. All of the players are looking to play golf professionally someday.
This year marks the first annual Greg Norman Academy Junior Invitational. College coaches came to the tournament ready to recruit.
"This is a hot bed for me to come to today. I was here yesterday and I'll be here tomorrow also to recruit some of the best players in the world," Jack O'Keefe said.
O'Keefe, a coach from Augusta University, says as exciting as it is for coaches, it's even more so for these players. Players are from 20 different countries including Belgium, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Mexico, Germany, USA, Colombia, Netherlands, Chile, Spain, Canada, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, England, Switzerland, Poland, Italy and Norway.
"These kids here are really serious about golf and trying to play professionally one day so this is a great moment for them to come over here to a new country…probably a lot of them had not been to America before and play against some of the top kids in the world... is fabulous," O'Keefe said.
These players are 13 years old to 18 years old. For Leonor Bessa and Pedro Lencart from Poland, it's true, they've never been to the United States.
"I talked to my parents, and they told me to come because I've never been here to the U.S. and it's a good experience," Bessa said.
It's my first time coming to play in the United States. So I'm trying to see like, how golf is here. It's a little bit different than Europe and maybe I can go to college here so it's important to see," Lencart said.
The tournament is being held at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. City Manager Mike Mahaney believes the event opens up new avenues overseas, meaning after playing here players can go back to their home countries and hopefully tell their families and friends about all the grand strand has to offer, leading to more visits.
For most players, they're already considering a longer stay in the U.S.
The third and final round of the tournament is Friday.