THE Brother of tennis ace Anna Kournikova is to join hundreds of world’s most promising junior golfers as they descend on the Lothians for a prestigious tournament.
A record number of youngsters from as far afield as Myanmar, Mexico, Japan and Nigeria will compete in the US Kids Golf European Championship, playing over five East Lothian courses – Gullane No.2, Gullane No.3, Craigielaw, Luffness New Golf Club and Longniddry Golf Club. Home-grown talent will rub shoulders with international juniors – including rising US star Allan Kournikova, the brother of the tennis star.
The three-day event, which starts on Tuesday, is predicted to give the area a £1 million economic boost, with many competitors and their relatives due to stay for a week. The contest, which has more than 560 entrants, is organised by the US Kids Golf Foundation to give children between six and 18 an opportunity to develop their skills and challenge each other for the European Champion titles in various age groups.
North Berwick seven- year-old Grace Crawford, who started playing when she was just three, is among the competitors.
Her mother Alison said: “As a local she has been aware of the event for a few years and has always wanted to play in it.
“The event is great for the local area. There is a real buzz when it’s in town and it must be good for the local economy.”
Mrs Crawford added: “Grace really enjoys playing and practising golf all year round. Who knows if that enthusiasm will continue but at age seven she doesn’t see any limits.”
Another bright talent taking part is German golfer Dominic Foos, 16, who is being tipped for the top after years of consistent performances at the European Championship and other competitions around the world.
He will be joined by Florida-born Allan Kournikova, nine, who picked up his first club aged two and has so far racked up more than 200 trophies.
His talents have made him a mini-celebrity in the USA, where he has appeared on a TV documentary and a late-night chat show.
Brodie Good, whose father Alasdair is the tournament co-ordinator, will also compete.
The father and son team recently went to the Masters tournament in a bid to pick up tips for the East Lothian event.
Brodie, 15, who plays in the East Lothian Under-16 event, said: “Hopefully being surrounded by such talented players will rub off on me so I can continue to improve my performance.”
Dan Van Horn, president and founder of US Kids Golf, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the quality competition we have built in conjunction with the superb partnerships we have formed with golf clubs in Scotland. The European Championship is now a major fixture on the calendar for the world’s best young golfers.”
The tournament is also expected to further cement Scotland’s reputation as a world-class golf destination.
Mr Good snr, head professional at Gullane Golf Club, said: “This provides an excellent opportunity to showcase Scottish golf to the world, particularly in such an important year for Scotland with the Ryder Cup in September.”
Golf fans can go to the East Lothian event, now in its sixth year, from May 27-29. There are no admission fees.