The 21-year-old, who is joint captain of DePaul University golf team in Chicago, has enjoyed an excellent 12 months and progressed through several rounds to reach the final sectional qualifying round at Summitt, New Jersey, for the US Open.
With five places up for grabs for the US Open at Oakmount, Pennsylvania, Lelliott was short of a caddy for the event so his father, Paul, a former Worthing Football Club player, stepped up to carry the bags for the 36-hole competition.
Among the golfers in action in the final qualifier were Lee Janzen, who has twice won the US Open, and around 30 other professionals.
James made a strong start to the competition but in 31-degree heat tired towards the end, shooting three-over in the first round and then eight-over in the second round.
Paul said: “James’s golf has improved significantly while in the States playing in the Big East NCCA Conference, which is extremely competitive.
“If he carries on improving on his recent performances it would make sense to give the pro game a go but the decision needs to be taken nearer the time and be based on his form and real prospects then. He is a very level headed boy and realises how tough it is and how many good golfers are out there.
“With regard to getting to the final sectional qualifying round for the US Open, this was a major achievement in its own right. It also directly exposed him to the tour pros that didn’t automatically qualify for the main event at Oakmount. Only the top 60 players in the world and special invites get that, everyone else has to qualify with tour pros being exempt until the final qualifying round.
“The experience was invaluable and although he tired towards the end of a 36-hole one-day event, he played some good golf and didn’t look out of place at all. It gave all of us real taste of what it takes to play at that level as their preparation, demeanour, confidence and professionalism was very apparent.”
James gained his golf scholarship at DePaul while playing at Worthing Golf Club. Next year is the last year of a four-year course, which is important in terms of both golf and education as he is majoring in sports related PR and marketing.
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