European Championship Recap

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“Cheers”

We would like to thank all of the players and their families for joining us last week in East Lothian, Scotland – “The Home of Golf” – for the 9th Annual European Championship.

Spectacular Shots

The opening day of the championship saw albatrosses at Luffness New and The Glen. The final round was graced by a hole-in-one and a third albatross at The Glen.

Angus Klintworth (Boys 15-18) made the first albatross of the tournament at Luffness New. “Aberlady” – the par 5, 14th hole with a sharp dogleg right was tipped out at a whopping 547 yards. Klintworth (pictured below) took an aggressive line and set himself up nicely for a miraculous second shot into the rangy par 5.

Klintworth’s albatross was swiftly backed up by an interesting moment for a 12-year-old Frenchman at The Glen.

Augustine Valery (pictured below), one of the stars of The Short Game – an independent documentary made during the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst – thought he hit his second shot into the tall grass over the green on the par 5, 15th. After searching for a few minutes, Valery declared the ball lost and returned to hit another shot from the fairway (which he stuck to 15 feet).

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As one of the other caddies went to tend the pin for the group, he noticed a ball in the hole; it was Valery’s lost ball! After verifying the ruling (Decision 1-1/2) and snapping a quick photo, Valery penciled in his 2 on the par 5.

Hunter Thomson (pictured below) of Calgary, Canada completed every golfer’s dream in his final round when he aced the 4th hole at The Glen.

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Finally, Sean-Karl Dobson recorded the third albatross of the tournament on the 8th hole, securing a place at the awards ceremony.

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The Glen

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Four of the five courses from last year’s event remained unchanged, while Glen Golf Club was added to the schedule. The Glen, as the locals call it, is often described as a hidden gem, but the secret’s out. This majestic links course wraps around the cliffs of North Berwick, mesmerizing its competitors from tee to green. There are a few quirky holes and blind tee shots, but hopefully it will become a staple in the event for years to come.

Boys 7 & Under – Longniddry

Boys 7 & Under

No other player in the field this week was as consistent as Graden Lomax. The youngster from Wrentham, MA posted three-consecutive rounds of 34 for a final total of 6-under-par. Lomax has shown a lot of promise – he was the runner-up in the 2015 World Championship and placed in the top five in six different Regional Championships. He finally put it all together this week as he secured his first Championship victory.

Boys 8 – Longniddry

Boys 8

After firing a one-under 35 in round one, Jake Valentine fell four strokes behind the leader with a 39 in round two. Valentine knew he faced an uphill battle heading into the final round if he was going to overthrow the consistent Aarav Shah from Melbourne, Australia. Valentine was relentless down the stretch, birdieing four of his last five holes for a final round score of 31 and a one stroke victory.

Boys 9 – Gullane No. 3

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The nine-year-old boys champion was also decided by a one-stroke victory as Felix Soderman won the age group with a three day total of +7 (223). Soderman returned to the U.S. Kids Golf circuit to improve upon his Top 10 finish in Pinehurst last summer. A well-timed eagle by the Swede on the par 5, 16th proved to be the difference in the age group.

Boys 10 – Craigielaw

Boys 10

Defending European Champion, Jay Leng Jr. added to his trophy collection on Thursday when he ran away with the Boys 10 age group. Leng Jr. fired rounds of 73-71-73, securing a commanding eleven-stroke victory at Craigielaw Golf Club. Leng Jr., who won the past two World Championships, has his eye on a three-peat in Pinehurst.

Boys 11 – Craigielaw

Boys 11

After falling just short in last year’s European Championship, Shubham Jaglan posted the low total of all sixteen age groups with a 207 strokes (9-under-par). The New Delhi, India native, who had a five shot advantage through two rounds, carded a 6-under, 66 in the final round to win by thirteen shots.

Boys 12 – The Glen

Boys 12

The aforementioned Glen saw only one participant under par through three rounds of play – Riccardo Roberto made the Italians proud with a final score of 3-under par. Roberto saved his best for last, shooting 70 in his final round. After a shaky 37 on the front, Roberto eagled the 12th and capped off the day with a birdie on 18 to secure his Championship trophy.

Boys 13 – Luffness New

Boys 13

Dominic Clemons found himself two shots off the lead heading into the final round. Clemons came out firing on Thursday with a quick eagle on the second, followed up by a trio of birdies on holes six through eight. He finished the day with a 68 which was good enough to turn his two shot deficit into a two shot victory.

Boys 14 – Luffness New

Boys 14

Lancelot Salisbury of France played in the European Championship for the sixth consecutive year. Each year, Salisbury improved upon his final standing. Last year was his best finish (8th) before championing the Boys 14 age group in 2016. Salisbury posted rounds of 71-75-71, winning by five strokes and proving that hard work pays off.

Boys 15-18 – Luffness New

Boys 15-18

In his first sanctioned U.S. Kids Golf event, sixteen-year-old Lukas Pany took home gold in the oldest boys’ age group. Pany carded consistent rounds of 75-72-73, becoming one of only two Spaniards to win this year’s event – the other – his twin sister, Elena. 

Girls 8 & Under – Longniddry

Girls 8 & Under

Isabella Dovhey was one of three Americans to claim the top prize in East Lothian. Dovhey shot back-to-back rounds of 39 leading to a two shot deficit heading into round three. The Florida native proceeded to post the low round of the tournament for her age group (35) on Thursday, winning by two strokes.

Girls 9 – Longniddry

Girls 9

No other girl competitor went lower at Longniddry than Rosie Bee Kim. Kim, who hails from the Greater London area, did not post a single round over par in her three day triumph at Longniddry. After placing second in 2015, the exceptional young girl returned to Scotland with a vengeance, firing 33-36-34 to win by five shots. 

Girls 10 – Gullane

Girls 10

The infamous Gullane hill was very unkind to all players who faced it this week, but that did not stop Stephanie Barbaglia from grinding out some impressive scores. Barbaglia, who was one of twelve South Africans in the field (including her older brother, Enzo) made her country proud by winning Girls 10 by eight shots.

Girls 11 – Gullane

Girls 11

In 2014, Harriet Lockley finished in tenth place. In 2015, Lockley cracked the top 5 and a earned herself a trophy with a fourth place finish. This year, Lockley continued to improve. After opening with an 80 in round one, Lockely followed up with a 74 in round two, capped off by an impressive 67 in round thee.

Girls 12 – Gullane

Girls 12

Pia Babnik is no stranger to the winners’ stage at the European Championship. The twelve-year-old from Slovenia has played the event since she was old enough to compete at the age of eight. Since finishing in second in her first two tournaments, Babnik has won her last three appearances and has no plans of letting up in 2017.

Girls 13-14 – Luffness New

Girls 13-14

Ffion Tynan became the fifth United Kingdom representative to hoist a championship trophy on Thursday. Tynan shaved a stroke off of her score each day as she finished with scores of 74-73-72. Tynan has competed in the tournament since the age of nine, has never finished outside the top four, and is now a two-time champion. 

Girls 15-18 – Luffness New

Girls 15-18

Lukas was not the only Pany returning home with a first place trophy. His twin sister, Elena showed the same levels of talent and poise as she won the oldest girls age group with scores of 76-75-78. The Pany twins caught the attention of many this week as their consistency proved the driving force behind their success at Luffness New.

European Van Horn Cup – Luffness New

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The closest fought cup in its history saw the International side retain their title for the fourth year running after a sudden death playoff.

Just as it seemed that Western Europe would take back the cup for the first time since 2012, fourteen-year-old Sigurdur Gardarsson of Iceland knocked his second shot on the par 5, 18th to five feet. The Western Europe team would par while Gardarsson, with ice in his veins, drained his eagle putt to force a sudden death playoff. The International side went on to edge the cup on the first playoff hole.

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The pairing with the lowest round in the European Van Horn Cup were awarded the Morrison Medal, named in honor of the late Sir Garth Morrison, who was Lord Lieutenant for East Lothian, and his wife Lady Gill Morrison.

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The boys winners were Shubham Jaglan, from India, and Alan Kournikova, from the U.S., who shot a 65, while Slovenia’s Pia Babnik and Ashley Stevenson, of France, carded a 63 for the girls, all playing for the International team.

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A Message from the Founder

Dan Van Horn, President and Founder of U.S. Kids Golf said, “On behalf of U.S. Kids Golf and the 630 players and their families that took part in this year’s European Championship, I want to offer my deepest gratitude to the East Lothian community and everyone who served, volunteered, or helped in hundreds of different ways.

“The talent, the courses, the energy just seems to get better and better every year. We crowned some incredible champions and had the closest Van Horn Cup match in history. Also, we were honored to donate to the formation of the Duncan McLean East Lothian Junior Golf Foundation. It was an amazing week. Most of all, I want to thank the many families I had the privilege to meet. They embody the U.S. Kids Golf mission so well.”

See you next year!

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European Championship – Round 2

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Leaders Heading Into Round 3

With one round left to play, 17 players from 10 different countries sit atop the leaderboard.

Age Group Name Hometown 1st Round 2nd Round Total
Boys 7 & Under Graden Lomax Wrentham, MA 34 34 -4
Boys 8 Aarav Shah Melbourne, Australia 35 35 -2
Boys 9 Sebastian Desoisa Gibraltar 77 71 +4
Boys 10 Jay Leng Jr. Rancho Santa Fe, California 73 71 E
Boys 11 Shubham Jaglan Delhi, India 69 72 -3
Boys 12 Ricardo Roberto Rome, Italy 71 72 -1
Boys 13 Ben Allen Lincs, UK 68 77 +1
Severi Soutolahti Tampere, Finland 72 73 +1
Boys 14 Lancelot Salisbury Bondues, France 71 75 +2
Boys 15-18 Lukas Pany San Pedro, Spain 75 72 +3
Girls 8 & Under Matidle Modesti Rome, Italy 37 39 +4
Girls 9 Rosie Beem Kim Greater London, UK 33 36 -3
Girls 10 Stephanie Barbaglia Johannesburg, South Africa 77 79 +12
Girls 11 Lou Loron Paris, France 79 74 +9
Girls 12 Beth Coulter Belfast, UK 71 73 E
Girls 13-14 Ffion Tynan Tonyrefail, UK 74 73 +3
Girls 15-18 Elena Pany San Pedro, Spain 76 75 +7

CLICK HERE FOR ALL RESULTS

Notable European Championship Alumni

Since its founding in 2008, the European Championship has seen many former players make a name for themselves in the world of amateur golf. The players this week look to join the likes of many notable alumni including Grant Forrest, Marco Penge, Robert MacIntyre, Matthias Schwab, Annabel Dimmock, Olivia Mehaffey, Albane Valenzuela and Shannon Aubert.

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Grant Forrest, a Craigielaw member, won the inaugural European Championship as a 14-year-old. He is now the top ranked Scottish amateur, and finished second this past weekend in the men’s Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship. Fellow past champion Annabel Dimmock won the women’s Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship in 2014. She now plays on the Ladies European Tour.

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The Conditions – More of the same

One of the major headlines from this year’s European Championship is the weather. John Godwin, Director of Player Development for U.S. Kids Golf, has made the journey to the European Championship since its founding in 2008.

“This is the first time that I can recall having three consecutive days of sunshine during the official rounds of play. Some may think that the sunshine and light breeze will make their battle with the links courses an easier one, but they would be mistaken.”

The sun continues to dry out the course, making the already firm grounds harder. As a result, the downwind holes play more difficult than the holes into the wind. Instead of landing the ball 10-15 yards short of the green and allowing it to release, players must land the ball 25-30 yards short of the green. Alternatively, players hitting into the wind have the ability to get the ball to stop.

“If players fail to adjust their approach with the conditions, they will have difficulty scoring. Landing points change because the ball is releasing much further. Shots tend to slip away when it’s dry and firm.”

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Economic Impact

The European Championship benefits more than just the skills of the players involved. The influx of tourists in the area delivers over a million pounds to the local economy – filling restaurants, hotels and B and Bs along Scotland’s Golf Coast.

Councilor John McMillan, East Lothian Council’s spokesperson for Economic Development and Tourism said: “It’s wonderful to welcome these budding young golfers back to East Lothian. I know that the players and their families thoroughly enjoy their time in our fantastic county with its scenery, warm hospitality and, of course, world-class golf courses.

“I very much look forward to welcoming this year’s competitors. It’s great to see golf’s future stars playing right here in East Lothian, which is home to the world’s oldest continuously-played golf course at Musselburgh Old Links. It’s a great link between history and the future.”

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European Van Horn Cup

As the tradition continues, the European Van Horn Cup is contested at Luffness New following the three-day European Championship. The top players from Western Europe face off against the top International players in a team event. Two players from each of the following age groups represented their respective teams: Boys 10, Boys 11, Boys 12, Boys 13, Boys 14, Boys 15-18, Girls 11, Girls 12, Girls 13-14 and Girls 15-18. In all, 10 games of stroke-play four-ball are played, and each game was worth one point. The International squad won last year’s Cup, improving their record to 3-5.

2016 European Championship

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The Field

Golf’s next generation of rising stars has flocked to Scotland to compete in one of the world’s most prestigious junior championships. The 2016 U.S. Kids Golf European Championship in East Lothian showcases 630 players from 50 nations – including countries as diverse as Gibraltar, Mauritius, and Nigeria. Now in its 9th year, the European Championship serves as an aspirational goal for junior golfers across the world.

Five of the champions from 2015 have returned to Scotland in hopes of defending their title – Allan Kournikova (Boys 11), Jay Leng Jr. (Boys 10), Albert Newman (Boys 8), Pia Babnik (Girls 12) and Grace Crawford (Girls 9).

Aarav Shah traveled just under 10,500 miles (approx. 16,900 km) – further than any other competitor – from his hometown in Melbourne, Australia to compete in this year’s championship. The two youngest competitors in the field are Matilde Modesti and Charlie Parker, who turns just six-years-old later this month.

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The Conditions

The opening day of the tournament was proclaimed one of the country’s most beautiful days of the year. Blue skies and lenient winds allowed many of the players with earlier tee times to post low numbers.

The abundant sunshine and little moisture that benefitted many of the morning competitors had the opposite effect on afternoon participants as it kept the links courses firm. Additionally, the East Wind, or the Winter Wind as the locals call it, began to remind everyone of the host country’s notorious playing conditions. The competitors were forced to get creative and knock the ball around under the wind.

No groups could speak to that more than the finishing groups at the top of Gullane hill on the No. 3 course. The gusts coming off the North Sea made it nearly impossible to reach the fifteenth hole for some players. However, the day was an overwhelming success thanks to spirit of the competitors and families alike.

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The Albatrosses

Recording an albatross (3-under par for the hole) is extremely rare, yet there were two players who managed that feat in the first round of the European Championship. Angus Klintworth, 15, made the first albatross of the day at Luffness New. “Aberlady” – the par 5, 14th hole, with a sharp dogleg right was tipped out at a whopping 547 yards. Klintworth took an aggressive line and set himself up nicely for a miraculous second shot to card his 3-under par.

The second albatross came from Augustine Valery, one of the stars of The Short Game – an independent documentary made during the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst. This albatross was truly unique. The 15th hole at The Glen is described as “an excellent par 5 taking the golfer along the cliff top on a typically undulating links fairway which has bunkers galore. Into the prevailing westerly wind this hole can be one of the most testing on the course. The approach shot needs to avoid the two greenside bunkers, either side of the green.” Valery’s shot did just that.

Not being able to see the hole, the group assumed the ball had gone into the tall grass over the green. After searching for a few minutes, Valery declared the ball lost and returned to hit another shot from the fairway (which he stuck to 15 feet). As one of the other caddies went to tend the pin for the group, he noticed a ball in the hole. It was Valery’s lost ball! After double-checking the ruling (Decision 1-1/2) and snapping a quick photo, Valery penciled in his 2 on the par 5.

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9-Hole Low Rounds

Rosie Breem Kim of Greater London, UK posted the low round among girls playing nine holes with a 33 at Longniddry. The 9-year-old carded birdies on 1, 8, and 9 in a bogey-free effort. E Butters of the Boys 7 & Under age group matched Kim’s score of 33 with four birdies and one bogey in his first round at Longniddry. The Chandler, Arizona native finished 3rd in Pinehurst in 2015 and is looking to build on his success from the Phoenix Local Tour.

18-Hole Low Rounds

Shubham Jaglan traveled all the way from Delhi, India to show the Boys 11 age group that he has game. Jaglan breezed through the front nine at Craigielaw with five birdies, and finished with a 3-under 69. Another British girl is leading the pack in the Girls 12 age group – Beth Coulter of Belfast, UK recorded a 1-under 71 at Gullane No. 3. Coulter holds a three stroke lead heading into round two.

Click here for the full results

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