Sharif Khatib of Los Angeles seeks to defend his 2019 championship (the 2020 event was postponed due to COVID-19) in an international field including 2018 champion Ben Clarke of Berhamsted, UK and Matias Perrone of Argentina, the reigning FIFG FootGolf World champion who captured the inaugural U.S. FootGolf Open in 2014.
This week’s tournament marks the fourth time the U.S. FootGolf Open will be played at Reunion but the first time on the newly upgraded par-72 Jack Nicklaus course. The U.S. and Mexico opens feature a combined $20,000 in prize money and U.S. Open competitors in the Men’s Division are also vying for two guaranteed spots in the FootGolf World Cup.
FootGolf came to the U.S. in 2011, but it was the creation of the U.S. Pro-Am Tour—and with it the U.S. FootGolf Open in 2014—that spurred interest in the U.S. on an international level and helped advance the performance of U.S. competitors.
“The first event with its cash purse of $25,000, was the first FootGolf competition in the U.S. to give players the feeling of becoming ‘professionals’ in the sport they love,” said Laura Balestrini, co-founder, President and CEO of the American FootGolf League.
Another turning point came in 2016 when the AFGL (American FootGolf League), the governing body of the Major League sport of FootGolf in the U.S., created its AFGL Tour. That same year, Women’s and Senior Division champions were crowned at the U.S. FootGolf Open.
“The U.S. Open has become very important to our world,” Balestrini said. “In 2019 we hosted players from 20 countries and across the U.S. The passion, competitiveness, and immense desire to be recognized as champions by their peers have inspired the players to do everything humanly possible to get to that final hole with a chance to win one of the most prestigious competitions in this young sport.”