Scotsman Stuart Wilson has been named the Captain of the European team for this year’s Ryder Cup Junior Match at Olympia Fields, Illinois, USA.
The Ryder Cup Junior Match takes place from September 24-25, a few days before The 2012 Ryder Cup is contested at Medinah Country Club, also in Illinois.
The event, like its senior counterpart, features teams from Europe and the United States, but here each team comprises six girls and six boys. Previous competitors include Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy, who have gone on to represent Europe in The Ryder Cup, Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, Solheim Cup player Suzann Pettersen and Hunter Mahan, the 2012 WGC-Accenture World Match Play champion.
Wilson, who won the Silver Medal as the leading amateur at The Open Championship in 2004, takes over from Austrian Gary Stangl and will be assisted by Kristin Gunhildrud. Wilson will also take charge for the 2014 match, which will be held in Scotland.
Wilson, 34, has an impressive CV as an amateur, participating in the Walker Cup in 2003, the Bonallack Trophy in 2002 and 2004, the St Andrews Trophy and the Eisenhower Trophy in 2004, and the European Team Championship in 2003. He was also British Amateur Champion in 2004, won the Lytham Trophy in 2003 and represented Scotland between 2000 and 2005. He captained the Scottish Boys’ team in 2010 and 2011.
“I am thrilled to be appointed as the Ryder Cup Junior Match Captain and delighted to have Kristin as Assistant Captain,” said Wilson. “Hopefully I can bring my years of experience as both a player and captain in a team environment to pass on to the juniors selected.
“This format of match play golf has always been my favourite and one that has given me successful moments in my golfing life and created many great friendships and memories. I look forward to working with all involved and watching the results closely over the next few months and to build towards a team that will have a good chance of winning in America.
“I hope that the juniors involved will get as much from their golf as I have had in the past.”
Assistant Captain Gunhildrud from Norway has extensive experience working with young people - particularly girls - in golf. She founded the Tinius Cup, a tournament where Norwegian girls aged 13-16 take on a similar team from Sweden, and also set up Knøttegolf, a special program to introduce children under the age of 12 to the sport.
She has won the gold medal for the Ladies Team in the 1998 Norwegian Championship, and the bronze medal in both the following two years. She has been involved with the Norwegian Golf Federation since 1995, and captained the European team which took on Great Britain and Ireland in the Vagliano Trophy last year.
“It’s an honour to be appointed the Assistant Captain for the Ryder Cup Junior Match,” said Gunhildrud. “I hope I can bring my experience with girls to this team. And I’m looking forward to working with Stuart the Captain as he has great experience as a match play specialist.
“The most important thing for the team is to have fun, both on and off the golf course. I think if you are in good mood you play much better. So I hope I can help with that too. I’m looking forward to meeting all the wonderful juniors and we are going to give America some exciting matches.”
Scottish Sport Minister Shona Robison welcomed Wilson’s appointment, saying: “I am delighted that Stuart Wilson has been appointed as Captain for both the 2012 and 2014 Ryder Cup Junior Match. This is a significant achievement and a well deserved reward for the hard work and dedication Stuart has already given to the game of golf.
“I look forward to watching Stuart and his team as they take on the USA at Olympia Fields in September and hope that they manage to reverse the result from Gleneagles in 2010.
“As the first Scot to receive this accolade, it would be somewhat fitting for Stuart to take the trophy home, especially as the 2014 event is returning to Scotland.”
The Ryder Cup Junior Match 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 potential.