European Championship spot in second major for budding golfer
‘Here we go again’, according to dad Conor, as Niall Lenaghan gears up for his second-ever international tournament.
The six-year-old joint-Gog Magog Academy and Haverhill Golf Club member will this May return to Scotland to compete in the US Kids Golf European Championship, having taken part in the 2018 Wee Wonders British Championships in St Andrews.
Conor said that Niall received an automatic invite to the 2019 competition – held between May 28-30 – as a result of this appearance, in his first major tournament.
And the youngster enjoyed the experience so much that his parents decided to take up the offer, with Niall – who will be seven by then – compete in the seven-and-under category.
“Well, here we go again really,” Conor chuckled. “He enjoyed the Wee Wonders experience so much that, when the invite came, we had to ask him if he wanted to do it.
“And he was really keen, he’s really excited about it.
“He got a taste for competing and, I think, he also enjoyed testing himself against a lot of other kids his age with that same competitive edge and similar skill-levels, he’s not really had that before.
“He also really enjoyed the attention of having an audience and taking part in a competition that treated them like professionals, he really enjoyed hearing his name read out on the tee.
“He seemed to love all of it, so we’re sort of accepting that holidays from now on are going to be based around golf.”
The tournament, the 12th annual event, will be held across six venues in East Lothian and will see the world’s best golfers between five and 18-years-old compete for various age category titles.
Niall will be taking part in the championship from Longniddry Golf Club at the end of May.
In 2018, a field of over 630 players and their families travelled from more than 50 countries to compete in Europe’s premier junior golf tournament.
This year will also mark the second annual European Championship Parent/Child Tournament, which will open for registration this spring, and Conor said he is considering entering.
“It would be lovely to do this together, he’s such a consistent and skilled player that he really can keep up,” he said.
“But we’ll see, I don’t want to try and do too much.
“It’s still all about having fun, I don’t want to make him feel like there’s any expectation other than to enjoy himself.
“He still doesn’t have a handicap and, as long as he’s not asking me for one, he won’t get one.
“I really like that it’s not needed to enter these sorts of competitions and you can stay a proper amateur while still competing at a decent level.
“And he’s got a chance to play alongside golfers who are probably the future of the sport, even if he never pursues golf as a career, he’ll be able to say he played against a future world number one.”