The US Kids Golf European Championships were held at the end of May with a record field of 606 participants from 46 nations travelling to East Lothian for the competition, the youngest being six–year-old Matilda Modesti (pictured below) 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. The UK outdid the United States in having six winners to the five while other champions came from South Africa, Denmark, Slovenia, Russia and Iceland.
The best round of the week, four-under-par, was carded jointly in the Boys seven and under and Boys 13 events. Britons Albert Newman, from Newport, and Jake Valentine from Stoke Poges, shared first place in the Boys seven and under 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.
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 Britons, 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.
Grace Crawford, from North Berwick in East Lothian, gave local fans plenty to cheer about when she won the Girls eight 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.
Good stated, “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.”
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 seven to three over Luffness New Golf Club to record their third consecutive win.
Dan Van Horn president of US 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.”
The US 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. The Foundation is the charitable branch of US Kids Golf – the world’s largest producer of junior golf equipment. The firm has pioneered the development of golf clubs for young people.