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Jun 26, 2024 12:31 pm

Miles Russell, 15, rides ‘rollercoaster’ into Rocket Mortgage Classic field

Miles Russell

Miles Russell tries to appreciate the unique position he finds himself in as a 15-year-old preparing to tee it up on the PGA Tour at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Thursday in Detroit.

But historical context can be overwhelming, so after earning a sponsor’s exemption courtesy of making the cut at a Korn Ferry Tour event, Russell intends to remind himself he’s still a kid playing a game when he walks into his Tour debut at Detroit Golf Club.

“They’ve been just a complete blast,” Russell said Wednesday. “I don’t know how to describe it other than just kind of a rollercoaster and it’s just been a rollercoaster of just fun.

“This has always been the goal, to play at the highest level. Don’t know … kind of just happened a little faster than I was thinking it might, but it’s just what happens when you have some good play.”

Russell said he began to realize he was ready for opportunities in pro events when he played well in Sarasota, Fla., in April. He became the youngest player to make the cut on that tour with scores of 68 and 66. He was under par in all four rounds and the youngest to ever finish in the top 20.

A Top-25 finish opened the door for him to play the following week in the Veritex Bank Championship and all but crossed out his availability for weekend sleepovers and the usual teenage Saturday stuff.

It’s been a minute or two since Russell was on the same tier as “normal” teenagers. He’s the reigning American Junior Golf Association Player of the Year, and the kid definitely has game. If he wasn’t participating in the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week, he would have been playing in the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst, where the U.S. Open was played two weeks prior.

Because of the mile-a-minute pace he’s keeping this summer, Russell has an agent — Allen Hobbs — and coach, Ramon Bescansa, handling all sponsorship, endorsement, appearance and publicity requests. Bescansa, also Russell’s caddie on the bag this week in Detroit, wants him to keep his focus on his game and the course, not the peripheral tentacles that comes with being part of a professional lifestyle and schedule before he can legally drive.

Defending champion Rickie Fowler was a 20-year-old who made his pro debut the year Russell was born in 2009. Fowler spent 36 weeks ranked No. 1 among amateurs in 2007 and 2008.

Min Woo Lee, a 25-year-old pro in the field and No. 64 in the FedEx Cup rankings, said his advice to Russell or any teen tackling a tournament schedule would be to avoid expectations and comparison but embrace the experience.

“I played pro events in Australia when I was 15, 16, and yes I was nervous, but I didn’t play for money or anything like that, so it was just golf,” he said. “I think maybe a little bit different because the social media side’s so big about it and he’s gotten a lot of attention over the past few months. … Obviously he’s a great golfer. I mean, he’s got plenty of time to turn pro and still years ahead of him. Hopefully he has fun and doesn’t beat me, but does well.”

Russell didn’t want to talk about goals or expectations 24 hours before his scheduled tee time in the second-to-last group Thursday at 2:11 p.m. ET.

“I have my own goals, but my goal is just to come out here and have fun,” he said. “That’s my main goal, have fun, maybe learn something, take something to my next event.”

–Field Level Media

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