Kaila Elsayegh, 9, Competes in Kids World Golf Championship

By Sarah Stockman
Palisades News Reporter

Kaila Elsayegh, already a youth golf champion at age 9, competed in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina Aug. 4-6. The Palisadian placed 22nd in her age group out of 102 competitors.

This year’s tournament, which has been held every year since 2000, brought together over 1,450 boys and girls, aged 12 and under, from 47 states and 51 countries. They each played three rounds over three days.

Kaila made her debut in the tournament a year ago, finishing 19th in the Girls Age 8 division.

This year she had a lot of fun, although round two proved to be more difficult than anticipated.

Kaila Elsayegh

Kaila Elsayegh

“The first day I did really well,” Kaila said. “And the second day the heavens opened up.”

Despite the torrential downpour, the players had to keep playing. Kaila, a Southern California athlete, is unused to playing in such conditions and so her game suffered.

She had played exceptionally well in round one, finishing with a nine-hole score of +2 over par. But she ended her water-logged second round at +8. She rallied to finish +3 in round three, ending +13 for the tournament.

Megan Meng from New Jersey won Kaila’s age group with a final score of -1 under par for 27 holes.

Kaila was disappointed with her total score. “Top 20 would have been good, but top 10 would have been better,” she said. She believes that if she hadn’t been discombobulated by the rain she would have made it into the top 10 or even the top 5.

Her father, Dr. Ashraf Elsayegh, understands her frustration, but still thinks she did really well. “She’s disappointed, but it’s pretty amazing,” he said.

The golf season is winding down, although Kaila still has at least three high-profile tournaments to play.

On August 15 at the Angeles National Golf Course in Sunland, she played in the Western Regional Semifinals for the Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship. She placed third with a total score of 127 in the three categories, only two points behind the second place finisher. Only the top two scorers  advance to the next round, but Kaila was satisfied with her performance because the two girls ahead of her were 11 and 12 years old.

Kaila will also play two tournaments in hopes of again qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. She competed in Palm Springs September 9 and 10 and took fourth. She had a tough first round finishing with a 40, but came back in her second round with a 36, which left her eight strokes behind the winner. On November 5-6 she’ll play at the Monterey Open. She is currently the defending age group champion in both events.

In October, Kaila turns 10, which means she’ll be changing age groups. “Once you turn 10, you play 18 holes in the regional tournaments,” she said. “And you play longer distances.” She has started training for the longer courses by going to the gym and jogging, along with practicing three hours a day at the Mountain Gate Country Club.

Kaila began 4th grade at the Village School this month. (See our previous feature, “Elsayegh Golfs at International Level,” July 20).

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