Heralded teen Miles Russell, 15, posts a two-over par 74 in his PGA Tour debut

June 28, 2024

Inevitably and perhaps unfairly, Tiger Woods comparisons already have begun for Miles Russell, who at 15 made his PGA Tour debut on Thursday, posting a two-over par 74 in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

Russell, the No. 1 junior player in the world, was impressive enough for much of the round, and was even par through 14 holes. However, an errant tee shot on the par-4 sixth hole, his 15th of the day, led to a double-bogey. He followed that up with a birdie four on his 16th hole, and closed with a three-putt bogey.

The leader is Akshay Bhatia, who shot an eight-under 64. Russell is tied for 128th in a field of 156.

“Today was a great day. I mean, for it to be the first, definitely wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but we live, we learn, we move on. So looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully tomorrow’s going to be better.

“I was a little nervous [on the first tee], I’d probably give it like a 7. That was probably my best drive of the day. Should have been nervous all day. It was a good day, settled in nicely.”

Before Russell’s tour debut, Raul Pereda, the PGA Tour player with whom he is closest, said, “We’re looking at a young Tiger Woods right here.”

Woods was 16 when he made his PGA Tour debut, at the Nissan Los Angeles Open in 1992. He had rounds of 72 and 75 and missed the cut by six strokes. “I learned that I’m not that good,” Woods said of his inaugural PGA Tour appearance.

In April, Russell, playing in the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic outside Sarasota, Fla., became the youngest to make a KFT cut and tied for 20th.

Late next month, Russell will be playing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Oakland Hills, as will Woods’ son Charlie, also 15. Tiger Woods was 15 when he won the first of three straight Junior Amateurs.

No doubt the comparisons will continue, and Russell obviously has talent and potential. Both were on display in small quantities on Thursday on a stage with which he was unfamiliar. It’s a start.