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Miles Russell is still an amateur golfer and intends to remain so for the foreseeable future.

Russell, the 15-year-old Jacksonville Beach native who became the youngest player in history to finish among the top 20 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event last week at the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Open, said he will keep to his junior and amateur schedule this summer, which will be capped by defending his title in the Junior Players Championship on Labor Day weekend at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

“That’s the plan,” he said Wednesday during a teleconference from the Veritex Bank Championship near Dallas, a tournament he’s playing thanks to his tie for 20th last week at Lakewood National. The Korn Ferry Tour gives players who finish among the top 25 a spot in the next event on the schedule. “I’m planning to play to play the rest of the summer like I planned to … a couple of junior, a couple of am events, see how it goes.”

Regardless of how Russell plays this week or any additional pro events, Russell said he’s not entertaining any thoughts of turning pro. His schedule includes events such as the Junior Players, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Junior, the Western Amateur, the North and South Amateur and a U.S. Open sectional qualifier, among other junior or amateur tournaments.

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” he said.

Russell also has a fall date on the PGA Tour: the Butterfield Bermuda Championship Nov. 14-17. Russell received an invitation to the FedEx Cup Fall tournament that will be reserved for the American Junior Golf Association Player of the Year.

Miles Russell’s ‘wild ride’

Russell will tee off at 3:43 p.m. on Thursday off No. 1 at the Texas Rangers Golf Club in Arlington, Texas, and at 10:08 a.m. on Friday from the 10th tee. His playing partners are Callum McNeill of Scotland (30 years old) and David Bradshaw (40).

Russell termed his last week “a wild ride,” and it’s no wonder. He first became the youngest player to ever make the cut on the Korn Ferry Tour (and the third-youngest to make a cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament), then had weekend rounds of 70-66 to climb 28 spots on the leaderboard.

Russell said he’s taking great satisfaction from earning his way into the Veritex Championship after playing in the LECOM Open on a sponsor invitation.

“Earning something feels better than getting an exemption,” he said. “You know what you practiced for and what you live for and that’s what you did.”

He admitted that Sunday and Monday were exhausting days. Once he and his family knew he would finish among the top 25 while driving back to Jacksonville Beach, there were travel arrangements to be made and a new set of golf clothes to pack.

“All the emotion and excitement and adrenaline, that travel from Sunday night to Monday until I got here … it was a long, long day.”

Russell said his goals this week are the same

Russell said he likes the course and said the goal this week would be the same as last week.

“Just try to put … two good rounds together and see where that puts us compared to the cut,” he said. “If we make the cut, just try to have two more good rounds and see where that puts us.”

He said he’s been surprised by the attention for his play at Lakewood National, which comes on the heels of a string of junior golf accomplishments, such as winning the Junior Players, the Junior PGA and being named the AJGA Player of the Year, along with making the Junior Ryder Cup team and the first USGA Junior National team.

“If I had my choice I would not have any of it [the attention],” he said. “But it’s kind of what happens when you play well so you kind of got to get used to it every once in a while. Everybody’s been nice and easy to work with and hopefully it stays that way.”

Russell said being humble is in his nature.

“I think that’s kind of my personality,” he said. “I don’t like being showy with things, kind of like walking around a certain way. I like to just kind of go about my business and do my thing.”

He said he was surprised when there were autograph seekers following his final round on Sunday — admitting he needs to improve his handwriting — and said it was “really cool,” to get a shoutout on X from World Golf Hall of Fame member and fellow left-handed golfer Phil Mickelson.

“I’ve looked up to him,” he said. “Going to The Players, I always watched him.”

Russell praises caddie/teacher’s influence

Russell said his support team of parents Joe and Kelli and caddie Ramon Bescansa have helped him concentrate on golf as best he can, given sudden media requests and fan attention.

He said Bescansa, his swing instructor since he was 7 years old, is a calming influence as a caddie.

“He’s the nicest, most positive guy you’ll ever meet,” he said. “The vibes he puts off … when you’re on the golf course that’s all you need. He can flip the mood and get you going [and] his knowledge of golf is on a different level.”

Russell also predicted he won’t be the last 15-year-old to make such a splash.

“Everybody has access to a ton of stuff … launch monitors, some of the best coaches … the equipment companies are starting to help younger kids out with gloves, balls … all the stuff … having the right clubs to fit into,” he said. “Everybody’s just so talented. There’s so many ways to be good and everybody’s finding every little detail to be good at it, or try to be the best.”

Source: Golfweek


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