Monday, 23 September 2002
As the eyes of the golfing world focus on the countdown to The Belfry, another transatlantic tussle gets underway on Tuesday just outside Dublin.

The Junior Ryder Cup matches, which have become an integral and important part of the whole Ryder Cup experience, hit the fairways at The K Club, County Kildare, with two dozen talented youngsters, some of whom could be the Ryder and Solheim Cup stars of tomorrow.

As with the main event, the Junior Ryder Cup Matches, between the youth of Europe and the United States, were postponed a year ago and have been rescheduled at the same venue with the same teams as originally planned.

However, unlike The Ryder Cup, the junior version is a mixed competition, each team consisting of 12 players four boys and four girls under 16 and two boys and two girls under 18.

The Junior Ryder Cup Matches were established to encourage friendship, the exchange of cultures and to enhance the enjoyment of golf. In its brief history, the event has already seen some players go on to make their mark in the golfing world.

The inaugural Matches in 1995 featured 15 year old Sergio Garcia leading the winning European squad, and since then both teams have included budding champions including Beth Bauer, Nicolas Colsaerts, David Gossett, Suzann Pettersen, a member Europe's 2002 Solheim Cup team, and Ty Tryon, the youngest player to gain a US Tour card.

This weeks teams will, no doubt, throw up someone who will become a household name in the not too distant future. It could be Swiss, Raphael de Sousa, whose victories include the English Under-18 Stroke Play Championship in 2001, while Farren Keenan captained England to victory in this years Boys Home Internationals in Scotland.

Curiously, no team has managed to win on home soil yet but Europe lead the series 2-1, winning the inaugural match in Rochester, New York, in 1995 and again at Cape Cod in 1999, while the United States were victorious in 1997 at San Roque & Alcaidesa Links in Spain.

The event is patronised and supported by the Ryder Cup Committee, European Golf Association, European Tour, PGA of Great Britain & Ireland and the PGA of America.

The Junior Ryder Cup Matches are staged over two days, Tuesday's
competition being a boys v boys and girls v girls four-ball series, commencing at 10.30am, while Wednesday's contest will be played as a mixed four-ball format, starting at 8.30am.

On Thursday, after the completion of the Matches, both teams will travel to Birmingham to watch all three days of the Ryder Cup at The Belfry.

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