Golf’s next generation of rising stars have descended on East Lothian, Scotland to compete in one of the world’s largest and most prestigious championships. A record field of over 670 players and their families join us for the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship. Budding stars from 51 nations – including countries as diverse as Australia, Gibraltar, and Mauritius – will compete over three days of competition.
The tournament’s history has showcased some of the area’s best courses over its tenure, and the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation is thrilled to add Royal Musselburgh – founded in 1774 and one of the world’s oldest clubs – to the list of host facilities. The addition of this storied venue opened the door for approximately 50 more budding young golfers from across the world to participate in the European Championship. The competition will also see a return to Gullane, Craigielaw, Longniddry, Luffness New and The Glen for the nine boys age groups and seven girls age groups.
While there are certainly a fair number of competitors that have their eyes on the first place prize, the field as a whole journeys to the three-day event with an assortment of aspirations. A total of 281 participants are competing in the European Championship for the first time. We would like to extend a very special welcome to these players and their families.
Half of the champions from last year return to Scotland with a smile on their face and a fire in their heart as they look to defend their title:
- Graden Lomax (US) – Boys 8
- Jake Valentine (GB) – Boys 9
- Felix Söderman (SE) – Boys 10
- Shubham Jaglan (IN) – Boys 12
- Isabella Dovhey (US) – Girls 9
- Rosie Bee Kim (GB) – Girls 10
- Harriet Lockley (GB) – Girls 12
- Pia Babnik (SI) – Girls 13-14
The remaining 381 players have their sights set on improving their finish from last year and enjoying time with their family.
Dan Van Horn, President and Founder of U.S. Kids Golf, said: “We are proud of the growing popularity of the event, but we never lose sight that each player brings his or her own story to the European Championship. Their hours of hard work, practice and determination result in world-class competition, new friendships and lifelong memories. East Lothian will be a cherished experience for hundreds of families long after the final putt drops.”
Round one’s conditions brought a mixed bag of Scottish weather. We began with a dreich morning, as the locals would say. The dreary, damp weather that most tourists come to expect on a trip to Scotland cast a small shadow over the morning, but also allowed for lower scores if the lads were able to fight through. Although they may not have enjoyed the views of beautiful Scotland in the sunshine, they were benefitted by slightly softer greens and calmer winds.
The sun made it’s appearance a bit later in the afternoon, and with it came the the East Wind, or the Winter Wind. Together they dried up the greens that benefitted many of the morning competitors and made for much tougher playing conditions in the afternoon.
This weather has carried over to round two of the competition, as the early tee timers will be put to the test on this cold, yet beautiful morning.
After a couple of albatrosses and holes-in-one in 2016, the opening round of 2017 brought our first hole-in-one at Longniddry. A young Irishman by the name of William Walshe graced the rest of his group with a beautifully striped seven iron on the par three seventh for an ace.
Young William, who is enjoying this event from the Boys 8 tee markers, went on to card an impressive 39 in round one.
9-Hole Low Rounds
Truong Aime (France) of the Boys 7 & Under age group carded three birdies and an eagle en route to a bogey-free 31. The exceptional round earned him a sole spot atop the leaderboard, but with nine more little lads under par he will be challenged the final two days. 2016 European and World Champion Isabella Dovhey (U.S.) made an eagle of her own in her bogey-free first round. The exceptional young lady pulled ahead of the pack and now owns a four shot lead heading into day two.
18-Hole Low Rounds
Fourteen-year-old Max Hopkins (UK) finished tied for fourth place in last year’s competition. Hopkins has clearly been brushing up on his game in the past year as he posted a tournament-low 66 in his first round at Luffness New. He holds a two stroke lead over 2015 World Champion, Tom McKibbin. North Berwick native, Grace Crawford leads the Girls 10 age category after posting a 66 of her own in her first round at Royal Musselburgh. Crawford, who won the Girls 8 division in 2015, finished just shy of a repeat last year and will look to reclaim her spot atop the leaderboard while competing in her home town.
The mission of U.S. Kids Golf is to help kids have fun learning the lifelong game of golf and to encourage family interaction that builds lasting memories. The U.S. Kids Golf Tournament Players Association, a branch of the Foundation, strives to ensure that all of or 1,200 events worldwide reflect that mission. There is no stronger representation of our mission than the parents caddying for their youngsters out on the course. While this is a strong international competition, we must all remember that the one true goal of the week is to have fun and enjoy the time you spend with your family; and what better way to do that than in the Home of Golf.
Overall, the day was an overwhelming success thanks to spirit of the competitors and families alike. We want to see the tournament through your eyes! Please use #uskidsgolf and #eurochamp when posting to social media this week so we can share your posts during the event!