There’s usually a bit of an adjustment period for freshman golfers. They must get accustomed to campus life as well as a higher level of competition. Players who come to the States from overseas have even more adjustments to make, which is why they can be excused if their collegiate careers get off to a slow start. Three foreign freshmen find themselves in the top 25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings as the fall season comes to a close, though. Much has been written about Texas’ Brandon Stone, who arrived in Austin as South Africa’s No. 1 amateur. Stone won his collegiate debut at the Carpet Capital. Here’s a closer look at the other two foreign first-year players who’ve made a quick adjustment to life in the States:
David Boote, Stanford
Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 14
Hometown: Surrey, England
Highlights: T-7, Olympia Fields Intercollegiate; T-3, Pac-12 Preview
The skinny: Stanford head coach Conrad Ray calls Boote “consistent and crafty in all areas of his game.”
Ray’s assistant coach, Phil Rowe, represented Great Britain & Ireland at the 1999 Walker Cup, and his ties to his homeland helped the Cardinal learn about Boote, who also has experience representing GB&I. Boote captained the 2011 GB&I team at the Jaques Leglise Trophy, a Walker Cup-style match between players 18 and under from GB&I and the Continent of Europe. Boote also won the 2011 Welsh Boys Championship.
“He flights the ball well, has very solid short game, and understands how to score,” Ray said. “He isn’t the longest player on the team but he plays form the fairway a lot which is a key to good scoring. He is solid in every facet but I would say his strength is his ability to wisely think his way around the course.”
Boote plays out of one of London’s top clubs, Walton Heath, which has hosted several premiere events, including the 1981 Ryder Cup and 2011 Senior Open Championship. He’s finished in the top-15 in all three of his collegiate starts, while playing in some of the nation’s best events. He was T-13 at the U.S. Collegiate after top-10s at Olympia Fields and the Pac-12 Preview.
Boote also enjoys playing the saxophone. He’s playing a sweet tune thus far for Stanford.
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Jon Rahm Rodriguez, Arizona State
Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 21
Hometown: Barrika, Spain
Highlights: 2nd, Pac-12 Preview; Won, Bill Cullum Invitational
The skinny: Rodriguez’s length and accuracy feed an aggressive playing style, one that Arizona State head coach Tim Mickelson helped Rodriguez learn to use appropriately. The 17-year-old has made a quick adjustment to life at ASU, winning the Bill Cullum Invitational on Oct. 23 after finishing second at the Pac-12 Preview.
“He got off a shaky start at first but once (Arizona assistant state Michael) Beard and I spoke to him about minimizing his mental mistakes and the common creed of “every shot counts,” he’s been very reliable and able to produce a ton of birdies,” Mickelson said. “I’m very impressed with how quickly he has adjusted to golf in the States simply because he’s still only 17. He has matured and grown a lot as a person over the last two months. I think his willingness to listen, learn and implement what his coaches tell him has allowed him to adjust quickly.”
He’s the first ASU freshman to win an individual title since 2008. He’d never been to the United States before arriving on campus.
Mickelson first learned about Rodriguez while browsing the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, and recruited him sight unseen. It was a long-distance relationship that’s worked out well for both parties.