The Junior Ryder Cup, an international event between Europe and the United States designed to showcase golf’s next generation, will return to Scotland in 2014 following the outstanding success of the 2010 contest at Gleneagles, the Perthshire venue which will host The Ryder Cup itself in three years’ time.
Today’s announcement coincided with a visit to Gleneagles yesterday (Friday) by Scotland’s Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison, who toured the Gleneagles complex with Europe’s Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills and Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland and joined a clinic involving children from Scotland’s junior golf development programme, clubgolf.
The venue for the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup will be announced at a future date, but the event will take place in its traditional slot as an exciting curtain-raiser at the start of Ryder Cup week taking place over the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles.
The 2010 Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was hailed as an unqualified success, with the Scottish partners working together to create an outstanding event.
Several hundred school children from the length and breadth of Scotland attended the two-day match at Gleneagles, creating a superb atmosphere for the contest and helping to showcase the clubgolf initiative. Shona Robison announced last week at the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open that new figures showing record numbers of girls are being introduced to golf through clubgolf.
So far this year 18,481 Primary 5 girls experienced golf at school through clubgolf’s introductory game, firstclubgolf. This figure represents the highest number of girls introduced to the game since clubgolf was launched in 2003 and is 49 percent of the total number of 37,790 children playing firstclubgolf at school in 2011.
To date almost 220,000 children in Scotland have been introduced to the game through clubgolf, with the support of sportscotland’s Active Schools Network, primary schools across the country and all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities.
Sports Minister Shona Robison said: “The last Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was a memorable occasion and I’m absolutely delighted that this event will be returning in 2014 – which promises to be a fantastic year of sport for Scotland on the world stage with the Ryder Cup itself and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“I saw for myself on Friday how the clubgolf programme is inspiring youngsters in Scotland to take up golf and I’m optimistic we can see the fruits of this with success in major competitions in the years to come. The next Junior Ryder Cup is a major opportunity which will complement significant sporting events in Scotland that year and leave a lasting legacy.”
Hills welcomed the return of the match to Scotland and said: “The Junior Ryder Cup never fails to emphasise the depth of young, emerging golfing talent and it is gratifying to see the enthusiasm of the youngsters representing their continents and to watch many of them develop into world class players.
“We were delighted with the success of the 2010 match at Gleneagles and believe that the return to Scotland for the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup will again highlight the quality of a new generation of golfers.”
The 2012 Junior Ryder Cup will take place from September 24 – 25 2012 at Olympia Fields in Illinois, USA, where the hosts will be defending the trophy they won by 13 ½ - 10 ½ at Gleneagles in September 2010, just a few days before Europe’s victory over the United States in the main event at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.
The idea for the Junior Ryder Cup was born in 1995, when a team of European juniors played an informal exhibition match against Central New York PGA Section and area juniors.
Two years later the Junior Ryder Cup was formally introduced as an event in its own right, being played at Alcaidesa Links Golf Course in Cadiz, Spain and won by America 9-7.
In 1999 the contest was held at Country Club of New Seabury in Cape Cod, Massachusetts which Europe won 10½ - 1½, and Europe maintained their dominance over the next five years, winning 9½-2½ at The K Club in Ireland in 2002 and 8½-3½ at Westfield Group Country Club in Ohio in 2004.
The 2006 match was tied 6-6 at The Celtic Manor Resort, and in 2008 the Americans won convincingly, 22-2 at The Club at Olde Stone in Kentucky.
The Junior Ryder Cup has been the platform which launched successful the professional careers of several players. Spaniard Sergio Garcia played in the 1995 exhibition match and four years later was part of the full European Team at The Country Club in Brookline, while Suzann Pettersen played in the Junior Ryder Cup in 1997 and 1999 before becoming Norway’s top female golfer and taking part in five Solheim Cups.
US Open Champion Rory McIlroy was in the victorious 2004 team, while America’s Hunter Mahan, having been in the 1999 team, has progressed to become a US PGA Tour winner and was one of Captain Paul Azinger’s picks for the 2008 contest at Valhalla Golf Club.
Others to graduate to the top are England’s Oliver Fisher, who played in the 2004 Junior Ryder Cup and only last week became a winner on The European Tour, and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who played in 2008 and now has two European Tour titles to his name as well as the 2010 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the year accolade.