Following the announcement of the 2018 European Junior Ryder Cup team we caught up with Team Europe Captain Maïtena Alsuguren about her squad of 12 for next month’s event.
The team is announced. How happy are you with your side?
I am very happy with the quality of the team because we have built a very strong side. We needed to think about the team as a whole, about the format, and our pairings compared to the US team. We have to make sure there is a balance between players who are in form and winning – like Nicolai Hojgaard, Emma Spitz and Conor Gough – and the promise players have shown over the last couple of years.
Amanda Linner, for example, is a fantastic player with great quality but she has not had her best year, but we felt that she still deserved to be picked based on what we know she can do.
Overall we have a combination of players who are in good form and others who we know are very talented.
How difficult was it when you were choosing your team?
A lot of good players didn’t make the team. All of those who were on our short list are fantastic players, and there were many who came very close to making the team. It is a credit to all of the national federations, and the national coaches for producing such talented players and although it gave me a dilemma it was a good dilemma to have.
Some players who were higher ranked missed out, but when you look at the World Amateur Golf Ranking it doesn’t move as fast and doesn’t reflect recent form as well.
Overall when selecting the team we did look at the rankings but also many other factors, which include the strength of individual performances, how the pairings in the team will work and also intuition!
Any players in particular who were very close?
Yes it was such a hard choice as there are so many talented players in Europe. Joseph Pagdin of England and Quentin Debove and Pauline Roussin-Bouchard of France were so close to making the team and they should be very proud to have been right on the cusp of our team.
In your side there are many groupings of players from the same country. How important is it going to be to have pairings who are familiar with one another?
That team chemistry is a difficulty we will have to deal with compared to the US, as although the US is very big and all of the players may not know each other they are still the same nationality. That is why for us it is important to have a core or pairings who we know can play together. David Puig and Eduard Rousaud Sabate from Spain, for example, did very well during the European Boys’ Team Championship where they won all of their matches. They are also good individual players of course but it is significant to know that they can play together.
On the girls’ side Emma Spitz and Emilie Alba Paltrinieri are making their second appearances in the Junior Ryder Cup. How significant will it be to have players who have experience of the competition?
It’s important to have players who have been there before, and their experience is definitely an advantage for the team with so many of them making their Junior Ryder Cup debuts this year.
With your team chosen how confident are you on winning the trophy back for Europe?
I am very confident but it will be tough. The US team also look very strong but we have a good chance and it all depends on how the first day goes. We need to create some doubt in the minds of the Americans and then anything is possible.
Also how excited are you to take your team to Disneyland Paris®?
It will be wonderful! It should be a very special occasion and a great experience for all of the team.