Missouri men's golf recruits growing number of international players

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | 10:26 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men's golf team is continuing to expand its recruitment past the borders of the United States.

The program currently features three international players:

Emilio Cuartero, the team's No. 1 golfer, is a senior who hails from Lleida, Spain.

Freshman Euan Walker is from Troon, Scotland, and redshirt freshman Jordan Williams is from Bristol, U.K.

In addition to these three, the program recently signed one of Sweden's top juniors, Linus Lilliedahl, who began practicing with the team this month.

Head coach Mark Leroux said there are a number of ways to scout these international players.

"Generally, the international kids are first identified at the European Boys' (Team) Championship," Leroux said. "This is a competition held every July where the 16 best golfing countries in Europe compete."

This competition has grown tremendously over past years, and college golf coaches are taking note. Leroux began attending the event in 2010.

"It used to be this big secret in coaching college golf that you could go over there and get players," Leroux said. "It has now grown to where there were over 40 of us in Scotland last year."

Leroux also uses recruiting services that help international junior golfers find universities in the states.

"The three recruiting services that are most used are prodreamUSA, FirstPoint USA and (College Prospects of America)," Leroux said.

The coach has a number of selling points for international players considering Missouri.

"Our golf courses are open year-round, which separates us from many schools in the north," Leroux said.

He also points to the well-groomed golf courses throughout mid-Missouri, especially in St. Louis and the Lake of the Ozarks, as being available to international players who decide to join the program.

The biggest selling point, however, is that Missouri is now in the Southeastern Conference, which Leroux said is the top athletic conference in the country.

The adjustment period varies with each international player, and there is certainly a learning curve after arriving in the States.

"I had to learn to be more open and talk more," Williams said. "I was a lot more shy before coming here."

Williams also had some adjustments to make on the course.

"I was surprised at how long the courses are and how far everyone hits it here," he said. "Instead of hitting a nine iron, I was hitting a six."

These international players bring a different style to the States as well, and that can be useful to their teammates.

"On the course, Jordan showed me a lot of different shots that he learned from playing in different types of weather," said Will Echelmeier, a redshirt freshman and Williams' best friend. "In the first month that he was here, Jordan showed me how to hit an extremely low punch shot that I'm still trying to perfect."

Leroux stresses that recruitment for the program starts locally and then branches out, but the program will continue to search overseas for talent. It has already found its next international recruit: A signee from the Italian national team, Luigi Botta, will join Missouri next fall.

The Italian team also features other junior golfers the coaching staff is interested in for the coming years.

"We first look at Missouri kids, and then we look at kids from the Midwest," he said. "Once we start to leave the Midwest, it really doesn't matter if they're from Arizona or Austria because of the cost and distance the player will have to travel."

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.



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