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