The influence of the Junior Ryder Cup will be in full evidence over the next few weeks, with 19 former players competing in two of golf’s biggest events, The Open Championship and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
This week World Number Two Rory McIlroy will attempt to win his third Major Championship, nine years after he represented Europe in the junior version of The Ryder Cup.
He is joined at Muirfield by five other European past Junior Ryder Cup players for the season’s third Major: Sergio Garcia, who was part of the first competition in 1995; Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who both played in 1999; Englishman Oliver Fisher (2004) and Italian Matteo Manassero (2008), who recently won The European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship.
Three Americans in the field also showed their potential as Junior Ryder Cup players: Hunter Mahan (1999), Bud Cauley (2006) and Jordan Spieth (2008 and 2010), who won the John Deere Classic on the US PGA Tour last week at the age of 19.
The female Junior Ryder Cup players have done even better, with ten in the field for the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrew’s from August 1-4.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen was part of the early teams in 1997 and 1999 before launching a successful professional career and playing in six Solheim Cups, and is joined by Dewi Claire Schreefel of Holland (2002), Florentyna Parker of England (2004), Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (2004 and 2006) and Belen Mozo (2004), Carly Booth of Scotland (2006 and 2008), Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic (2010) and Americans Vicky Hurst (2006), Jennifer Johnson and Lexi Thompson (both 2008).
The Junior Ryder Cup celebrates the progress and hard work taking place at the grass roots level of golf, which helps talented young players develop into national team amateurs and some – in the case of McIlroy, Mahan and Colsaerts – to The Ryder Cup itself. In the PGA and PGAs of Europe, golf has a much envied network of expert coaches who, together with golf club volunteers and national governing bodies, help and guide young golfers towards achieving their full potential.
The 2014 Junior Ryder Cup will take place on the Rosemount Course at Blairgowrie Golf Club in Scotland, from September 23 to 24.
Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills said: “The success of The Ryder Cup has put us in the fortunate position to, through the Junior Ryder Cup, be able to celebrate the abundance of young talent in Europe and the USA.
“To see so many former Junior Ryder Cup players in The Open and Women’s British Open is a chance for all the parents, volunteers, coaches, clubs and amateur governing bodies, who have helped these players along the way, to be as excited about the future as we are.”