ROCHESTER, NY – The 82nd Monroe Invitational will kick off next week (July 26-29) with one of golf’s brightest young amateurs, Ukraine’s Lev Grinberg, gearing up to make his mark. Grinberg, who is just 15 years old, has had tremendous success in his young golfing career and is ranked 205th according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR).
He currently resides in Belgium and will be flying to the United States on Tuesday (7/18) with his father, Illya. On Thursday (7/20), he will play in The Monroe Invitational media day with local sports media members.
The Monroe Invitational Committee was a pivotal piece in bringing Grinberg to the prestigious four-day tournament. Mason Grower, The Monroe Invitational Chairman, contacted Grinberg back in March to gauge his interest for playing at The Monroe and has been in constant contact throughout the process to help get the star to Pittsford, NY. “It’s just a great tournament,” said Grinberg speaking to Monroe Invitational media representative, Jeff Rahmlow, over a zoom interview on Sunday. “I was impressed with the WAGR ranking for the tournament and my dad, who helps with my scheduling, really wanted me to play in it. We found a way, thankfully, with the help of The Monroe Invitational Committee.”
“We are thrilled to have Lev be a part of the 82nd Monroe Invitational,” said tournament chairman, Mason Grower. “The tournament committee has really enjoyed working with Lev and his father throughout the registration process and we can’t wait to see his talents on display.”
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Grinberg stumbled into the game of golf by accident. When he was a young child, he would take a bike ride every Saturday morning with his father as a weekly tradition. Says Grinberg, “We took a different path one week and saw some people with sticks hitting balls and we were wondering, what is this?” “I tried it and loved it. We started coming back every Saturday after that. That is how it all started.” He was 5.5 years old at the time.
As Grinberg became more and more serious about golf, he started playing international tournaments in Belgium beginning at the age of seven. His family was fortunate enough to have a house in Belgium where his sisters were attending university, making it convenient for Lev to compete where the game of golf was more popular than his home country of Ukraine.
At the age of nine, Grinberg’s family moved to Belgium after Lev decided “golf was going to be my focus and that I wanted to give it my all.”
That “all” has been quite impressive thus far for Grinberg who has had a great deal of success early on in his career, including making the cut and being the top amateur in 2022 at the DP World Tour Soudal Open at the age of 14.
While Grinberg has an array of memorable finishes, when asked which finish he is most proud of, Grinberg smiled and said, “probably the DP world event.” “It is so stressful playing in front of all the cameras and the large crowd. You grow up watching it (the DP Tour) your whole life and to be on that stage, you really have to focus.”
With the help of his father who played 15 years of badminton in the USSR, Grinberg has put together an impressive tournament schedule for the 2023 season. “I look on the EGA (European Golf Association) and the R & A tournaments and focus on the big amateur tournaments that have the highest WAGR rankings, like all the country events (Portugese amateur, Spanish amateur, etc).”
Grinberg has set lofty goals each year which he largely attributes to why he has been able to have so much early success on the golf course. This season, one of his major goals has been to qualify for the Junior Ryder Cup Team, something he has been laser-focused on. There are nine qualifying events for the Junior Ryder Cup, including the Portugese, Spanish, and German Internationals, German Boys Open, The Amateur Championship, European Championship, European Boys’ Team Championship, and the R&A Boys’ Amateur Championship. The top three point scorers from these nine events automatically qualify to play in the Junior Ryder Cup in Rome from September 26-28, while three others make the team as captains picks. With one more event to play in the R & A Boys’ Amateur Championship in mid-August, Grinberg is on the cusp of qualifying, currently sitting fourth in the standings. At the end of August, the team will fully be announced.
While the game of golf has been a great outlet for Grinberg, the war going on back home in Ukraine is always in the back of his head. “It’s really difficult because my grandfather is still in Ukraine (Illya’s father) and it’s not nice we have to worry about him.” “The whole situation in Ukraine is not nice…I just try to focus on golf, but sometimes it’s hard.”
Grinberg is really looking forward to his upcoming experience at The Monroe Invitational, saying it will be the furthest North he has played in the United States. He is no stranger, however, to the US as he used to spend the winters in Florida to play golf when the Belgian courses were closed during that time. In 2020, his stay in Florida was extended when the COVID pandemic rocked the world, keeping his family in the US due to travel restrictions for almost two years. He made the most of the situation, focusing on his golf game and building a team with a fitness and golf coach.
The highly-motivated teenager has built a strong resume to this point and has high hopes for his golf career. “I want to win all four golf majors and play in the Ryder Cup.” “Those are my goals.”
Grinberg and the rest of The Monroe Invitational field will begin the tournament on Wednesday, July 26.