Need something to cheer for at 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic? How about the strong contingent of amateurs

If it were any other week at Detroit Golf Club, 15-year-old Miles Russell wouldn’t be allowed into the locker room. Good for him it’s not an ordinary week.

Members have to be 16 to go into the locker room, but surely they’ll make an exception for Russell, who’s in the field this week at the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic on a sponsor exemption. In April, he became the youngest player in Korn Ferry Tour history to make a cut. Now, he’s making his first PGA Tour start in the Motor City.

“This has always been the goal, to play at the highest level,” Russell said. “Don’t know, kind of just happened a little faster than I was thinking it might, but it’s just what happens when you have some good play.”

In addition to Russell, Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – Jackson Koivun, Ben James and Luke Clanton – are teeing it up this week in Detroit.

Koivun recently helped Auburn win its first national championship and won every major individual award, including the Fred Haskins Award, and he’s on the verge of earning a PGA Tour card by summer’s end. If you didn’t know, he was only a freshman last year.

Then there’s James, the 2023 Phil Mickelson Award winner for Freshman of the Year. The rising junior at Virginia nearly won the NCAA individual championship last month at Omni La Costa and was on the 2023 Walker Cup team.

Don’t discount Clanton, either. The incoming junior at Florida State finished the year as the top-ranked golfer in the NCAA golf rankings. He also made the cut at the U.S. Open two weeks ago and helped the Seminoles to a runner-up finish at the NCAAs.

In a field that is lacking of the PGA Tour’s biggest stars, perhaps the amateurs can carry the torch this week. Three of the best players in college golf, plus the 15-year-old stud who is gaining popularity by the tournament, could be a shot in the arm for the Tour this week.

For Russell, it’s just another chance to prove he belongs.

“I have my own goals, but my goal is just to come out here and have fun,” Russell said. “That’s my main goal, have fun, maybe learn something, take something to my next event.”

Min Woo Lee has taken notice of Russell. A talented golfer in his amateur days, Lee said he was nervous when he teed it up in events at that age, but he also just tried to go out and just play golf.

“Again, he’s only 15, so I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of, you know, too much expectation,” Lee said. “Obviously he’s a great golfer. I mean, he’s got plenty of time to turn pro and still, yeah, years ahead of him. Hopefully he has fun and doesn’t beat me, but does well.”

When asked about Russell on Tuesday, Willie Mack III, who punched his ticket into the tournament thanks to his win Sunday in the John Shippen,  was joking about the locker room situation for Russell.

“Yeah, he’s been playing well,” Mack said. “Hopefully he plays well this week and keep going.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek