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Tyler Greenawalt | | November 3, 2015

Duke golf: International players highlight East Lake Cup

  Leona Maguire (right), the top-ranked amateur female golfer, is one of Duke's top international golfers.

ATLANTA -- For the Duke women’s golf team, learning about new cultures is as easy as talking to a teammate.

The Blue Devils’ entire roster, including the five golfers who competed in the inaugural East Lake Cup in Atlanta, hail from outside the United States. From Ireland to India to South Korea, Duke featured a bevy of international talent. And they aren’t alone. Four of Baylor’s five golfers are not from the United States, as well as one from both USC and Stanford.

Finding talent overseas has never been hard for Duke coach Dan Brooks. He’s found success with international players over the course of his 31-year career, which includes six NCAA National Championships, 18 ACC Championships and 122 team victories, the most of any women’s golf coach in Division I history.

And most of the time, Brooks said, the golfers find him.

“I’ve gone out of the country three times, and one of the times I’ve been out was to watch an American kid play,” he said. “It’s not like you have to run all over the world to find these players, they’re coming here.”

The 2015 roster features some highly-rated pro prospects, including top-rated amateur female Leona Maguire of Ireland and 22nd-ranked Celine Boutier of France.

“I’m border-blind when it comes to that. I don’t think about countries and borders, I think about whether they’re good kids,” Brooks said. “Duke’s got a big name throughout the world so these players gravitate towards us.”

Maguire found her way to Duke after hearing from former Blue Devil champions Laetitia Beck and Alison Whitaker, while Boutier narrowed her search down after competing in tournaments.

“They had a lot of good things to say,” Maguire said about talking to Beck and Whitaker. “I don’t think the international aspect is why I chose Duke. I chose Duke for Duke.”

Both Maguire and Boutier agree the biggest cultural difference between the golfers is what food to eat

“Food has definitely been a big thing. There’s always a debate pretty much every night as to which restaurant we’re going to go to. We all have really different tastes,” Maguire said. “I’ve never really had much Asian food prior to getting to Duke, so I’ve learned a little bit more (about Asian cuisine). I just like my simple meat and potatoes and vegetables. They’re trying to get me to branch out a little bit more.”

While Maguire hasn’t found the taste yet, Boutier said she’s really enjoyed trying new foods.

“We’ve checked out Japanese, Thai and Korean,” she said, “and I really loved it.”

The biggest takeaway, however, is getting a snapshot of a wide range of ideas, cultures and customs.

“You see things differently. You’re just more accepting of people and accepting for who they are. It’s actually been pretty fun to learn about cultures and countries and habits that they have that we don’t have, ” Boutier said. “You see things differently. You’re just more accepting of people and accepting for who they are.”

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