Challenging links conditions proved to be no obstacle for the best competitors at this year’s U.S. Kids Golf European Championships as the world’s young golfing stars competed for individual age titles.
A record field of 606 participants from 46 nations, including 19 U.S. states, travelled to East Lothian for the competition – the youngest being six–year-old Matilda Modesti from Italy with Aarav Shah, the furthest travelled, from Australia.
The international reputation of the event was underlined by new European Champions coming from seven different countries – UK outdid the USA in having six winners to the five from America while other champions came from South Africa, Denmark, Slovenia, Russia and Iceland.
The best round of the week, 4-under-par, was carded jointly in the Boys 7 and under and Boys 13 events. Brits Albert Newman, from Newport, and Jake Valentine from Stoke Poges, shared first place in the Boys 7 before Albert won the play off, while Rasmus Bofill, from Denmark, won the Boys 13 also with a four under par score of 212, two shots ahead of Hugo Riboud Mendiburu from France.
The lowest score of the week was France’s Marin Dhancourt, who shot a 67 (5-under-par) in his first round of the Boys 13.
Grace Crawford, from North Berwick in East Lothian, gave local fans plenty to cheer about when she won the Girls 8 and under category, winning by four shots from Rosie Bee Kim from London.
Alasdair Good, tournament co-ordinator and Head Professional at Gullane Golf Club, said the Championships had extra appeal for the competitors, coming just a few weeks before the world’s best players head for Gullane Golf Club as it hosts the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
He added: “With gusting winds and squally weather, East Lothian was a true links test for the players. Some will have had their first taste of tough links competitive golf – which will be an experience they can only go on and learn from.
“We always want to show the young players that there is an art to playing golf in whatever conditions are thrown at you. However, no one complained which showed the young players demonstrated real strength and character to play through to the end of the week.
Dan Van Horn President of U.S. Kids Golf Foundation said: “It is a thrill to see the competition grow in strength and to welcome a record field of young golfing talent that truly stretches from across the globe.
“The tournament is now firmly established as Europe’s premier junior golfing event.”
Elsewhere, six players retained their European Champion titles this year. They were led by American Allan Kournikova (brother of tennis ace Anna) who scooped his remarkable fifth consecutive victory. The other reigning champions included two Brits – Charlie Daughtrey from Rotherham (his third win overall), and Kasumi Tran, from Begelly, Wales, – while Dane Rasmus Bofill picked up his third title in a row with Slovenia’s Pia Babnik and Bailey Shoemaker of the USA winning their second crowns.
The leading competitors from each category went on to compete in the Van Horn Cup. Modelled on the Ryder Cup, and played over ten games of stroke-play four ball, this event saw the International team beat their European rivals 7-3 over Luffness New Golf Club to record their third consecutive win.
The international pair Nataliya Guseva (Russia) and Rivekka Dzhumagulova (Bulgaria) recorded the day’s lowest score, 6-under-par 66 in helping their team to victory. John Gough (UK) and Jeremy Faure (France) fared next best scoring a 5-under-par 67. For their superior play, the two pairs earned the Garth and Gill Morrison Medal, an award honouring the late Sir Garth Morrison.
The Championships – played over five famous golf courses on Scotland’s Golf Coast; Gullane No.2, Gullane No.3, Craigielaw Golf Club, Luffness New Golf Club and Longniddry Golf Club – is organised by the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation which is dedicated to promoting golf to young players and their families the world over.
The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation was launched in 2001 to provide opportunities for children across the world to learn and play golf and to forge new friendships. Since holding its first tournament in 2000, U.S. Kids Golf Foundation now runs over 900 events each year including the prestigious World Championship at Pinehurst.
The Foundation is the charitable branch of U.S. Kids Golf – the world’s largest producer of junior golf equipment. The firm has pioneered the development of golf clubs for young people, eliminating the problem of kids using heavier, cut-down adult clubs, which often hurts developing swings and discourages budding players.
2015 European Champions:
Boys 7 and under: Albert Newman, UK
Boys 8: Matthew Golovanov, USA
Boys 9: Jay Leng Jr, USA
Boys 10: Allan Kournikova, USA
Boys 11: Casey Jarvis, South Africa
Boys 12: Alexander Yang, USA
Boys 13: Rasmus Bofill, Denmark
Boys 14: Charlie Daughtrey, UK
Boys 15-18: John Gough, UK
Girls 8 and under: Grace Crawford, UK
Girls 9: Kasumi Tran, UK
Girls 10: Bailey Shoemaker, USA
Girls 11: Pia Babnik, Slovenia
Girls 12: Nataliya Guseva, Russia
Girls 13-14: Toni-Louise Naylor, UK
Girls 15-18: Olof Maria Einarsdottir, Iceland
U.S. Kids www.uskidsgolf.com
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