Southeastern Amateur has international flavor

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Golf is an international sport. All you need for proof is to go to the Country Club of Columbus this week.

The field at the 86th Southeastern Amateur includes half-a-dozen golfers who literally come from half-a-world away, looking to bring down under thunder to one of the nation's top amateur golf tournaments.
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For Steven Vail of Sydney, Australia, the choice to make the Southeastern Amateur part of a personal USA golf tour was a no-brainer.
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"It's what you've got to do," Vail said. "You've got to come over and play with the best players and this is the place to do it."
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Vaughan McCall of Waikoikoi, New Zealand agreed with Vail. "Coming over here and getting stronger competition, I think that's massive," said McCall. "It gives us a real look at where we stand in the world and you can kind of compare yourself against the best."

For the five Aussies and one Kiwi who are in Columbus to play in the tournament but are not part of an American college golf program, making this 10-thousand mile trip happen isn't easy. Anthony Quayle of Hope Island, Australia said it comes down to going the extra mile so they can do the 10,000 miles.

"A lot of us are fortunate enough to have jobs back home and we work pretty hard to save up the money for this trip," Quayle said, "and we also have few people at our club that want to help us and see us do well. They might help us a little bit by doing a fundraiser or something like that at our home course to get us over here."

The golfing world Down Under is a small one. These guys know each other, and have competed against each other for years. Here they're not just competitors.

"Sometimes it's a little big hard going to the other side of the world by yourself and trying to play in an event where you really don't know anyone and everyone's got an accent," said Quayle.

"It makes me feel a lot more comfortable and makes it feel like home," Andy Chu of Sydney said. "Everyone's friendly and my friends are here, you know. What more can you ask for?"

Of course, if you're going to travel that far on your own dime, the dreams of making the big time have to be realistic. Jack Williams of Adelaide has been one of South Australia's top amateurs for a couple of seasons, and is almost ready to take the plunge.

“Oh for sure, myself, I want to turn pro one day, and I'm sure a few of the other Aussie boys do, so hopefully we can all make it happen,” Williams said. I just gotta touch up a few things, make my game a bit more solid all over, and that'll be pretty much it. Just gotta stick to the process and I'll be right.”

Williams and Quayle both shot 3-under 68 in Wednesday's opening round, while Chu and McCall carded 1-under 70. Matt Lisk of Adelaide opened the tournament with 2-over 73, while Vail carded a 9 on his second hole of the day, the par-4 11, and had to settle for 7-over 78.

Round two is scheduled to get underway on Thursday morning at 8 am ET.