Thursday, 13 May 2010
Rory McIlroy 600x300  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy 600x300 (Getty Images)

The selection criteria for the European team at the Junior Ryder Cup, the competition which helped launch the careers of Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Suzann Pettersen among others, have been finalised ahead of the contest at Gleneagles Resort from September 27-28, 2010.

The Junior Ryder Cup originated from an exhibition match between teams of boys and girls from Europe and the United States in 1995 before it was formally introduced in 1997. The match traditionally takes place just before The Ryder Cup and comprises six girls and six boys on each team.

Spaniard Garcia played in the first match in 1995 before qualifying for the full team four years later, while Northern Ireland’s McIlroy was part of the 2004 team and Pettersen, Norway’s top women’s professional, played in 1997 and 1999 before being part of five Solheim Cups.

For 2010, Europe’s selection criteria dictate that the team will feature three boys and three girls who were under 16 years on January 1, 2010, and three boys and three girls under 18 years on the same day.

The six under-16 players will be selected via the 2010 European Young Masters at Royal Balaton Golf Club, Hungary, from July 22-24 with the champion and runner-up from both the boys’ and the girls’ competition qualifying for the team. Two more competitors in the European Young Masters field will be selected by the Captain, Gary Stangl, in the under-16s category.

All six under-18 players will be picked by a selection committee who will take into account performances in the European Girls’ and Boys’ Team Championships, national level junior championships and players’ standings in the European Amateur Golf Rankings (EAGR) and Ladies European Amateur Rankings (LEAR).

The complete European team will be announced following the European Young Masters on 24 July.

In 2006 and 2008 Europe included under-16 players only, while the United States players were under 18, and Stangl believes the new criteria will make for an even match.

“Two years ago some of the American players were nearly 18 years old and were playing against Europeans who were under 16,” he said. “This year it will be more even in terms of ages and it promises to be an electrifying competition.”

The European youngsters will travel to Gleneagles Resort in Perthshire, Scotland, the venue for The 2014 Ryder Cup, on September 23 with the aim of regaining the Junior Ryder Cup, having lost to the United States at The Club at Olde Stone in Kentucky two years ago. Prior to that Europe won the matches in 2002 and 2004, at The K Club in Ireland and Westfield Group Country Club in Ohio respectively, and the 2006 contest at The Celtic Manor Resort was tied.

Both the European and United States Junior teams will visit Celtic Manor after the Junior Ryder Cup has finished to play a nine-hole Friendship Match and to meet the players from Colin Montgomerie’s European Team and Corey Pavin’s American Team ahead of The 38th Ryder Cup.

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 even 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 potentials.

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