Kira Kazantsev is more than just a pretty face — her golf swing says it all.
The 2015 Miss America has been spotted on the links since she was 3 years old. Now, she’s finishing up her first appearance at the American Century Championship.
Kazantsev, 27, was one of four women competing at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
“I’m grateful for everybody having faith in me and bringing me on as one of four women in the tournament. And I’m very proud to be here.” she said.
Before the tournament in Tahoe, Kazantsev made the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AM. She and PGA partner Ryan Armour finished -22 overall over three days. Kazantsev was one of 10 amateur/celebrity players in the field and the only woman to make the cut.
As a host for Golf Advisor Living, she savored her Pro-Am debut.
“It was a whirlwind experience, completely life-changing,” she said. “It was extremely educational both for my golf game and just for myself as a golf media professional. And I couldn’t be more thankful to the folks at the AT&T.”
The former Miss America struggled during the first day of the tournament near Monterey, but she received some advice from actor and 12-time ACC contestant Alfonso Ribeiro.
“There was a moment on the back nine at Monterey Peninsula Country Club,” she said. “I hit a good chip shot within two feet of the hole. And Alfonso came over to me and said ‘You belong here, kid. Don’t forget that you belong here.’ and that helped.”
Kazantsev’s parents, George and Julia, left Moscow and immigrated to the United States in 1990. Kira was born in San Francisco but her first taste of golf occurred in the Sunshine State.
“My parents are Russian immigrants,” she said. “I think my dad saw golf as this American thing that their kid should do. So as a 3-year-old we went on a vacation to Florida, and we played golf. It just became this thing we did.”
Kazantsev strengthened her golf skills through high school. Girls golf wasn’t viewed as the popular option among her friends and classmates.
“It just wasn’t a great environment for me to continue cultivating that skill,” she said. “I held on to it through high school. But it wasn’t cool anymore for girls, which is the dumbest thing ever.”
Despite her busy routine, Kazantsev makes room for golf. Her appearances in prominent celebrity tournaments helped her put women’s golf back on the map.
“I still have that itch to play,” she said. “I’m happy being one of the few women to play this great game. It fuels me knowing I can make an impact toward more women playing golf, here and at other events, as well.”