Thursday, April 02, 2009If you judged golfer Greg Duncan by his name or face, you might come away with the impression of an all-American boy.But while the 18-year-old Jensen Beach resident is a U.S. citizen, his speaking voice gives away his country of origin. The accent has thinned, but the senior at Jensen Beach High School was born in Scotland, and moved to South Florida with his family only three years ago.
All-Area boys golfer of the year, poses for a portrait at Eagle Marsh Golf Course in Stuart. He recently played in the Pro-Am exhibition event of the Honda Classic.
Treasure Coast Sarah Grile/The Post
Greg Duncan, a senior at Jensen Beach High School, The Palm Beach Post All-Area boys golfer of the year, poses for a portrait at Eagle Marsh Golf Course in Stuart. He recently played in the Pro-Am exhibition event of the Honda Classic.
When I first moved here, my accent was much stronger,” Duncan said. “I had to repeat everything I said three or four times before anyone could understand me.”
His golf game, however, required no translation. Playing for coach Larry Sweazey’s district runner-up Falcons, Duncan earned Player of the Year honors among the first team members of The Palm Beach Post‘s 2008 Fall High School All-Area Teams for finishing first in the district finals, second in regionals and fifth in the state.
Duncan says he now feels more at home in the United States from both golfing and social perspectives.
“We wanted to get away from the cold weather,” he said. “It’s been a lot better for my golf game. It took some time to get used to living here, not knowing anyone at school, but I really like it now. Americans are a lot more laid-back and friendly than the Scottish.”
The sport of golf was invented in Scotland, where Duncan started playing at age 3 with his father. A native New Yorker, property developer Ken Duncan is the only other golfer in a family that includes Greg’s Scottish mother, Isobel, and his sisters Jennifer and Ashley.
“My father’s good enough to beat me once in a while,” Duncan said. “But I started winning pretty regularly when I was around 12.”
The young golfer had plenty of training in Scotland’s tougher conditions.
“There might be more water hazards here, but there’s less rough,” he said. “Not to mention 60-mile-per-hour winds and freezing cold weather.”
Duncan enjoyed warmer playing surroundings last month when he participated in the Pro/Am exhibition tournament during the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. He was paired with a former PGA champion, Shaun Micheel, who finished the Honda Classic with an even-par 284, nine strokes behind champion Y.E. Yang.
“That may be the best day of golf I’ve had in my life,” Duncan said. “Shaun told me what he had to do to make it as a pro, and it was great to play in front of so many people on a professional course.”
A return to Scotland might be in the cards for Duncan if he doesn’t attend college after graduation.
“I’ve been talking to the coach at the University of South Florida in Tampa,” he said. “If I don’t go there, I may take classes at Indian River State College and play as many amateur tournaments as I can. Or I could go back to Scotland and play tournaments, and hopefully get on the European or PGA Tour.”
For now, Duncan will continue to work with instructor Jerry Tucker. The Stuart resident has multiple South Florida PGA Senior Championship victories and Teacher of the Year awards – not to mention a replica of the 12th hole from The Masters golf tournament at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Course in his back yard.
There’s always another avenue for Duncan, whose golf exploits overshadowed the two-sport star’s other European-approved game of choice.
“I’ve played soccer since I was 5,” said the Falcons’ midfielder. “This season, we won districts for the fifth year in a row, and lost in double-overtime to finish second in regionals.”
Jensen Beach’s Greg Duncan recorded two-under-par 70s
Greg Duncan Jensen Beach’s Greg Duncan recorded two-under-par 70s to round out the top three finishers. Duncan was pleased to play as well as he did on a challenging course. “This course was pretty hard,” Duncan said. “The greens were unbelievable. They were so undulating. Some of those greens were like (miniature golf). But I just tried to play one shot at a time. I couldn’t hole any putts, but after a while they just started dropping.” Jensen Beach’s Greg Duncan shot a 2-under-par 70 and tied for second individually in the Region 7-1A meet Monday, earning an individual berth in next week’s Class 1A state tournament. “He had a phenomenal round,” Jensen Beach coach Larry Sweazey said. “He stayed within 1-over to 2-under the whole match.” Duncan overcame breezy conditions and unforgiving greens to become the first Jensen Beach boys golfer to advance to state in the program’s five-year history. This was Duncan’s second qualifying round under par shooting 70 at Jupiter Hills Country Club as low Medalist. “The greens were the absolute toughest that any of the boys have seen,” Sweazey said. “They were tremendously hard. The course played extremely tough.” “To his credit, he kept his composure the whole round.” www.gregduncan.ws
Jensen beach High golf team with Coach Larry
Senior sports night at Jensen Beach High.
After a shaky first round of the state championships we stopped at my favorite restaurant for some wings
Coach Larry Swazi and I at the state championships