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Hernando student to play in England

It hasn't quite sunk in for Ryan Armstrong, that three short weeks from now he will pull a Titleist club from his bag and stride to the tee at a storied old British course.

Not a bad way to earn a high school credit, not a bad way to see the world.

Armstrong, 16, a junior at Hernando High, recently was selected to represent the United States in the People to People Sports Ambassador Program's United Kingdom Golf Exhibition in England and Scotland.

"I never really thought I'd be able to do it," Armstrong said. "I don't think it's set in yet that I'm going to do it."

The U.S. group is scheduled to play Gullane and North Berwick in Scotland and Richmond Golf Club in England, then take in one round of the British Open at Royal St. George's Golf Club.

Armstrong was nominated for the program by former Hernando boys coach Pete Lahey and passed through an interview and evaluation process before being accepted. Then Armstrong and his family had to raise $4,000 in tuition.

After a few weeks of frustration, they were able to secure about half of the needed funds, said his step-father, Gary Wolszon.

"First, when I went out, my principal had written me a letter so I could ask for money," Armstrong said. "I went to all the golf stores in the county, and I think they thought I was pulling their chain."

It is an unusual opportunity, after all. The People to People program was created in 1956 by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower and began sending student-athletes to other countries in 1963.

According to organizational literature, "the ideas and understanding created by face-to-face encounters with people of different backgrounds will be the foundation of a lasting world peace. As they travel under the banner of People to People, Sports Ambassadors represent the best of our country: hope, courage, openness and a love of peace."

Armstrong is stock-piling disposable cameras and souvenir wish lists, as his family will not travel with him.

"I'm not worried," Wolszon said. "He's very mature for his age, very responsible. I'm more excited for him than nervous."

_ Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to