Tee It Up: U.S. Kids Returns
The wait is over.
Thursday 1,300 children under the age of 12 will swarm the golf courses in the Sandhills for the U.S. Kids Golf Championship.
"We are used to running major championships," said Peter Stillwell, director of business development for Pinehurst Resort. "This is a major and we will treat it no different than we would for a U.S. Open."
The Championship is in its sixth year. Moore County is hosting the event for the third consecutive season.
According to organizers, the tournament grows in popularity each year.
"We don't run into a shortage of people wanting to compete," said Kristi Novak of U.S. Kids Golf.
This year, nearly 1,300 participants are expected to compete. Approximately 10 percent, or 105 children, will be from countries outside the United States.
Fifty-one golfers will be from North Carolina. Five, Joshua Martin, John and Caroline Rea, Sean Chang and Symon Balbin are from Moore County.
Martin, 11, finished third last year. He has won the U.S. Kids three times.
"Every year it gets bigger and bigger," Stillwell said of the tournament. "The goal is that we are going to keep them here as long as we can."
The event begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. with a parade through downtown Pinehurst followed by the opening ceremonies.
The opening ceremonies, which are free and open to the public, will be the only time all the golfers and their families and/or chaperones will be together to celebrate the event.
Play in the tournament will run through Aug. 2.
The culmination of the tournament is a Ryder Cup-style World Cup event that pits the top 12-year-old competitors from the United States against the top players from other countries. That event will be played Aug. 3 on the famed Pinehurst No. 2, which is the site for the 2008 Men's U.S. Amateur and the 2014 Men's U.S. Open Championship.
Thursday play begins on nine area courses. The Championships will be played on Pinehurst course Nos. 3, 4 and 6, Mid Pines, Talamore, Midland Country Club, Longleaf, Little River and Whispering Pine's west course.
More than 600 volunteers will work the tournament. Two-thirds of them -- about 425 -- will work inside the ropes. The others will work outside the ropes, helping with things like parking and organization of the opening ceremonies.
"They are a great army," Stillwell said of the volunteers. "We couldn't do it without them."
The event is expected to bring more than 5,000 visitors to the area and generate more than $4 million for the local economy.
Stillwell encourages everyone to come out and watch the tournament.
"They are guaranteed to see some great golf," he said.
For a complete list of competitors, tee times and courses, go online to www.uskidsgolf.com.
For continuing coverage of the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships, pick up the print edition of The Pilot, or visit us online at www.thepilot.com.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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