Golf: Kanev Ready to Lead Way for BulgariaViews on BG | March 23, 2010, Tuesday // 14:11| views
Sofia-born Kanev hadn't even heard of golf when he moved to Scotland 13 years ago with mum Stephanie and stepdad Brian. Photo by golfgameaccessories.com
From The Scotsman (scotsman.com)
By Martin Dempster
AN EDINBURGH golfer is hoping to tee up in the world team championship in Argentina later this year – but not for Scotland.
Michael Kanev, a 20-year-old member of Carrickvale and Royal Musselburgh, has his sights set on representing Bulgaria in the event for the second time.
Sofia-born Kanev hadn't even heard of golf when he moved to Scotland 13 years ago with mum Stephanie and stepdad Brian.
But his handicap is now down to 1.6 and says his goal is to become the first Bulgarian to play on the European Tour.
"It will be tough but one of my goals in life is to try and inspire more young Bulgarians to take up the game," said Kanev. "Hopefully we could experience something similar to Korea, which is now producing major winners in men's and women's golf."
By comparison to Scotland, Bulgarian golf is still in its infancy. The Bulgarian Golf Association was only formed nine years ago and there are just a handful of courses in the country.
That said, Gary Player designed one of them, a couple others bear Ian Woosnam's name and Paul McGinley has just been signed up to re-design the oldest course in the country, St Sofia.
"I had never even heard of golf when I moved to Scotland and my first handicap after joining Carrickvale was 26," recalled Kanev, who went to St Serfs School.
During a three-year spell back in Bulgaria, Kanev was a member of the national team and, along with Petar Kaloyanov and Alec Lingorski, earned a place in the record books by being the country's first-ever representatives in the Eisenhower Trophy.
"We played in the 2006 event in South Africa," he added. "That was a great honour and we finished fourth bottom when I'm sure a lot of people were expecting us to be last. I remember being next to Richie Ramsay (a member of the Scottish side] on the driving range and thinking to myself, 'I'm not too far away from being at the same level'."
While admitting membership is too expensive for most Bulgarians, Kanev was fortunate to get the free use of facilities at a course just outside Sofia thanks to him being on the national team.
"We had an English coach called Neil Turley, who used to play on the Challenge Tour, and he's the man who transformed my game," he said. "I was lucky to meet him because he made my swing a lot more simple and, before coming back to Scotland last year, I had won the Bulgarian Amateur and the State National - two of the biggest tournaments in the country.
"I came back here as I needed new challenges. I didn't feel I played as well last year as I could have but this season I am looking to play in some of the biggest events in Scotland.
"I am hoping to get into the Scottish Youths' Championship, for example, and would also like to play in some of the 72-hole events, such as the Cameron Corbett Vase."
Kanev has helped Carrickvale reach the final of the Edinburgh Municipal Clubs Winter League this season and is proud to be a member of the club that has won the Dispatch Trophy for the last three years.
But he's hoping a decision to join Royal Musselburgh will prove beneficial in the long run. "I needed a change of scenery and hopefully new experiences will help me to keep progressing," he said.
While football and tennis are the two main sports in Bulgaria at the moment, Kanev is hoping to do his bit to put golf on the map, too "Hopefully one day it will also be one of the biggest," he added. "My goal is certainly to become a Tour professional – that's what I am working towards."