Emmanuel Kountakis, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Stevens Creek Elementary School, doesn't have to talk about his golf game. His friends say it all for him.
Emmanuel Kountaris, 10, is in the Athlete Spotlight.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"He'll be a pro," Emmanuel's classmate Reza Abolghassem said.
"He'll win the Masters one day. I know it," classmate Rhett Rogers said. "He can beat my dad, and he can beat me."
His friends have all the confidence in the world when it comes to Emmanuel's golf game. No one can blame them.
Emmanuel will compete in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday for the National Championship in the Mutual of Omaha Drive, Chip, and Putt Junior Challenge.
The event will be televised on the Golf Channel on Thanksgiving Day.
Emmanuel said he usually gets nervous when competing, but he has a plan for the national contest.
"I do my routine," he said. "I'll walk behind the ball, then go around it. Staying calm is the hardest thing."
Despite a little nervousness, nothing stands in Emmanuel's way from winning the national championship in Orlando. His friends say he's had plenty of practice.
"He spends every day out here," Rhett said, "except on Mondays when we go fishing on the third hole."
Emmanuel gets most of his practice at West Lake Golf Club. He is the Augusta Area Junior Golf Association Player of the Year. It's just one more golf award for a boy who got his first birdie at the age of 6 and once shot a 34 on the West Lake front nine.
Emmanuel's father, Dr. Stilianos Kountakis, introduced him to the game.
"He's been playing since the age of 3," Kountakis said. "Golf is a great tool to get kids to focus."
Emmanuel certainly is a focused child. At Stevens Creek Elementary, he's on the A Honor Roll. On the golf course, he's in a league of his own.
Emmanuel qualified for the national competition by winning a local tournament in Charleston, S.C. In August, he competed in a regional drive, chip, and putt junior contest in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The regional contest was part of The Golf Channel's 105-city tour to find the nation's best 88 junior golfers.
According to Will Lenz, of The Golf Channel, 30,000 children in 39 states and Canada competed at the local level.
In Orlando, Emmanuel will compete against 21 golfers in his age group. He will be the only child from the state of Georgia competing in the event.
Although he is a long way from college and a possible professional career, Emmanuel said, he's got a few long-term goals in mind.
"I want to get in the Masters," he said.
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