Celebrity Mini Champ Set to Compete in US Kids Golf European Championships

by Heather Peebles

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Allan Kournikova Pose BackswingJunior golfers from across the world have descended upon East Lothian this week to take on the three-time champion who has become a minor celebrity in the United States.

This year’s U.S. Kids Golf European Championship boys 9 tournament is shaping up to capture the lion’s share of interest with Allan Kournikova aiming for his fourth consecutive victory.

Florida-born Kournikova is the half-brother of tennis ace Anna Kournikova and is being tipped for the top after years of consistent performances at the European Championship and other competitions around the world.

The nine-year-old prodigy picked up his first club at just 18 months and has racked up more than 200 trophies in his career to date, making him a celebrity in the USA where he has appeared on a documentary and a late night chat show.

Talking after his practice round at this year’s championships, Kournikova, said: “No one in my family played golf, I just remember watching it on TV and asking my mom if I could play.

“I played three sports when I was younger, golf, tennis and horse-back riding but it was golf that I had the most fun playing so that’s what I’ve concentrated on.

“I started playing competitively when I was five years old and the U.S. Kids Golf European Championships has been a great experience.

“East Lothian is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. I love it, even when the weather is bad. I actually prefer to play in tough conditions as it makes the game challenging and I get to be more creative.

“The team at the U.S. Kids Golf European Championships are fantastic and I’m so happy to be here. In the future my ultimate aim is to turn professional and I hope that

I will be as good at golf as my sister was at tennis.”

Showbiz Star

Since winning last year’s European crown, the pint-sized sensation has starred in Netflix’s The Short Game, a documentary profiling young golfers on the up (It won the Audience award at the SXSW Film Festival), where he talked about his love of the game and his ambitions to become one of the great players in professional golf.

This was followed by an appearance on the Late Night Show where Allan and two other young hopefuls challenged presenter Jimmy Fallon to a chipping contest.

Allan clinched his first European title at just six in 2011 when he took the under 7 category, repeating the feat the following year before tasting success in the boys 8 tournament in 2013. He’s hot favourite for the 2014 boys 9 title.

However, several other golfing talents from across the globe have flown in to challenge Allan’s domination this year as the tournament hits five courses in East Lothian.

At last year’s competition, Kournikova was almost pipped by his local rival Rafe Cochran who grabbed second place in their age group. Much like Kournikova, Cochran has been playing golf since he was five and has been competing internationally since he was six.

As well as being a young phenom, he is also a budding philanthropist who was inspired to help the poor of Haiti when his third grade class visited Florida-based charity Food For The Poor.

After donating money he received for his ninth birthday, he encouraged his supporters to donate to the charity when he participated at the Doral Public Junior Golf Classic Tournament. And, thanks to the generous support of his fans who pledged $100 for pars, $200 for birdies and $250 for eagles, Rafe exceeded his goal and raised $6000.

But, it’s not all about the two Palm Beach residents in this category. Kournikova and Cochran will have face stiff competition from other returning champions. Scots challenger Valdemar Hundeboll, from Campbeltown, came third last year behind the Americans, which was his best result at the tournament to date.

Others coming back to give Kournikova a challenge are French prodigy Thomas Doucerain, as well as juniors coming from as far afield as Myanmar, Nigeria and Japan.

During the competition, the 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.

The top finishers in each category will compete in the Van Horn Cup over Luffness New on May 30 – a showpiece event, modelled on the Ryder Cup, where the best Western European players are matched up against the top golfers from the rest of the world.

The top five finishers in each age and gender group also automatically receive an invitation to the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst Golf Club, North Carolina, in August.

About U.S. Kids Golf

The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, a Georgia non-profit recognized as a 501(c)(3) charity, was created in 2001 and provides services that include competition and instruction. The Foundation organizes more than 750 golf tournaments for kids each year with over 10,000 individual players ages 5-18.  These tournaments include Local Tours in more than 50 cities, 10 Qualifiers across the nation, seven Regional Championships, a European and Malaysia Championships and the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship and Teen World Championship, which are held each year in Pinehurst, N.C.

The vision of the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation is to provide kids and their families the opportunity participate in the game of golf through instruction and competition.  They believe that family interaction is critical in the development of young golfers and encourage parents to serve as caddies for their kids during tournaments and to develop positive coaching techniques.

U.S. Kids Golf, LLC is based in Atlanta and manufactures equipment and related golf products designed for kids. It was created in 1997 when Founder/CEO Dan Van Horn found that his children were losing their interest in golf due to not having the proper equipment. In addition to more than 4,000 golf shops and retail locations in the United States, the company’s products also are available in over 75 countries worldwide.

For more information or to register for the U.S. Kids Golf European Championships, visit www.uskidsgolf.com.

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood Partnership. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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