Yeppoon golfer tees up early success on US college tour
GOLF: Yeppoon's Ben Swaffield has made a big impression in his first semester of college golf in America.
The 18-year-old landed in Montgomery in August last year to take up a full scholarship at Alabama State University.
He said at the time it was a dream come true and a major stepping stone on his journey towards becoming a pro golfer.
Swaffield came home for Christmas and returns to the States this weekend, keen to continue his good form on the fairways.
He is one of four international students on Alabama State's seven-member golf team.
"It's going really well. The guys are really friendly and have been really welcoming,” Swaffield said.
"It really is a very cool experience.
"College sport is a big business over there."
Swaffield has played five tournaments for Alabama, the events taking him to states including South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
He fired in the final tournament at Gulf Shores in Alabama, carding rounds of 71, 67 and 75 to score an eight-shot victory.
Swaffield had a gross score average of 72.64, the best on his team.
"That was a good way to finish the season, and to win an event was pretty big,” he said.
"It's nice to know that a golfer from regional Queensland can compete with these guys.
"There's a hell of a lot of good players over there.
"The first couple of tournaments I was pretty nervy ... but I ended up with a few good results.
"I feel I played strongly but there's definitely some room for improvement.”
Swaffield said his goal for 2019 was to continue improving his golfing average and to maintain a high GPA at university, where he is studying business.
"We have 10 tournaments scheduled for the year, 11 if we win our conference and more if we make it to the regional championships,” he said.
"We head to Las Vegas in late March, which will be one of our biggest tournaments so that should be a lot of fun.
"It's been one hell of an experience already and I know I've got a lot to look forward to.
"I just plan to keep working hard and see where this takes me.”