0 Dazzling Golf from the World’s Best Juniors

A spectacular display of golf from some of the best young players shone through the blustery conditions in East Lothian at the prestigious U.S. Kids Golf European Championship.

Competitors from no less than ten different countries - including Thailand and the Czech Republic - scooped European Championship titles, reflecting both the growth and spread of junior golf throughout the world.

The best performance of the tournament was a spectacular 5-under par victory for Germany's Dominic Foos in the Boys 13 age group, which allowed him to retain his European Championship title, while young English golfer George Guillermo Leigh finished at an impressive 9-under par in the Boys 8 section.

And a future star of the future was unearthed in the youngest age group at the Championship, the Boys 7 and under, as young American Allan Kournikova finished at 2-under par to secure his first European Championship crown. The six-and-a-half year old youngster overtook his nearest rivals on the final day of the tournament and could be taking the first steps to matching the sporting achievements of his big sister - former professional tennis player Anna Kournikova.

Other winners included Dutch player Max Peerbooms in the Boys 10s, South African Deon Germishuys in the Boys 11s and Thai youngster Amarin Kraivixien in the Boys 14 section.

Young female golfers also displayed their sporting credentials at the tournament, with Emilie Paltrinieri from Italy recording an impressive 1-under par in the Girls 9s and Slovenian youngster Tijana Jovicevic finishing an astonishing 17 strokes ahead of her nearest rival in the Girls 8 and under section.

The competition - played over Gullane No. 2, Gullane No. 3, Craigielaw Golf Club, Luffness New Golf Club and Longniddry Golf Club - was organised by the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, which aims to promote the game of golf to young players and their families around the world.

In addition to picking up the individual European Championship trophies, each age group winner also won a place to the prestigious U.S. World Championship, which is being held at Pinehurst, North Carolina, later this summer.

Dan Van Horn, president of the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, said: "This has been a great event which has showcased the very best junior golf from around the world.

"We've had some blustery conditions on the courses which gave our young competitors a test of Scottish links golf at its best, but the standard of play has once again been exceptional. We've seen many sub-par scores throughout the week and there have been a number of new European Champions, which really reflects the quality and emerging talent from all around the world that exists among the young golfing stars of the future.

"The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship was designed to help young players bond and enjoy their time together on and off the course. Although they're competing against each other, it has been wonderful to see so many young players form new friendships during their time in East Lothian."
Overall, the UK recorded the highest number of individual winners with strong performances from South Africa and the United States.
Johann Germishuys, from South Africa, and Aimee Wilson from Tamworth in Staffordshire won the boys and girls oldest age groups. Germishuys took the 15-18 years title with a 54-hole aggregate of 222, beating Brits Tom Bayliss and Joey Lamb.

Wilson won her age group after a play off with Italian Barbara Borin, who had also finished on 233 following 54 holes of competition.

The other boys' winners were: seven and under: Allan Kournikova (Germany); Boys 8: George Guillermo Leigh (UK); Boys 9: Dylan Fritz (USA); Boys 10: Max Peerbooms (Holland); Boys 11: Deon Germishuys (South Africa); Boys 12: Herman Loubser (Isle of Man); Boys 13: Dominic Foos (Germany); Boys 14: Amarin Kraivixien (Thailand).

The other girls winners were: eight and under: Tijana Jovicevic (Slovenia); Girls 9: Emilie Paltrinieri (Italy); Girls 10: Melanie Vendelbergerová (Czech Republic); Girls 11: Martha Lewis (UK and Hazel McGarvie (UK); Girls 12: Cecile Bofill (Denmark); Girls 13: Elizabeth Prior (UK); Girls 14: Sophie Madden (UK).

The top finishers in each category competed in the Van Horn Cup over Gullane No 1 - a showpiece event, modelled on the Ryder Cup, where the best Western European players are pitted against the top international golfers. The Western European team won 8-5, winning the trophy for the third year in a row.

The tournament's courses are modified for each age group in order to provide the same level challenge, meaning holes are progressively shorter as the age groups get younger. It ultimately allows the players to reach the greens in the same number of strokes as the top pros on the PGA tour.

The Championship, which is now in its fourth year, is one of the highlights of the world's junior golf calendar. More than 500 players - the biggest field of competitors in its history - from around the world, including Guatemala, India, the Philippines, Namibia and Egypt, competed in East Lothian for the individual European Champion titles as well as for places at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst later this year.

The event is expected to have brought an additional £4 million economic boost to Scotland, due to many of the international players bringing their entire families overseas to watch them participate in the competition.

Alasdair Good, tournament co-ordinator and head PGA professional at Gullane Golf Course, said: "We've seen a tremendous standard of golf this year and we were very impressed with the way that these young players have performed in some challenging conditions.

"East Lothian is one of the jewels in the crown for Scottish golf and it's always pleasing to see the region taking centre stage in major tournaments like this. Judging by the comments we have received from children and parents it's clear the region has given a very good account of itself and I hope that many of them will return for next year's competition."

The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation was launched in 2001 to provide opportunities for kids to play and learn the game through local tours and tournaments. Since holding its first tournament in 2000, the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation now runs some 400 events each year including the prestigious World Championships - the largest and most prestigious golf tournament for kids in the world that attracts more than 1,200 players.

For more information on the U.S. Kids Golf European Championships, visit www.uskidsgolf.com

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