The European team for the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup, which takes place at Disneyland Paris® from September 24 – 25, has been finalised.
The team, comprising one under-16 boy, five under-18 boys and six under-18 girls, will attempt to regain the trophy from the United States after a 15½ - 8½ defeat at Interlachan Golf Club in 2016.
The Junior Ryder Cup was formally introduced in 1997 – with stars such as Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Suzann Pettersen all having taken part in the event since – and, once again, it will serve as a curtain-raiser for the main event at Le Golf National, from September 28-30.
Leading the way for the European team is Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard. The 17 year old became the third Danish player to win the European Amateur Championship in June, and after making the cut in the Porsche European Open, he would go on to reach the quarter-final stage of the British Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.
Also making the team is Rasmus Hojgaard who pipped his twin brother to the Toyota Junior World Cup title earlier this year in Japan. The brothers will become the first set of male twins to represent Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup – Irish twin sisters Lisa and Leona Maguire played in the event in 2008.
England’s Conor Gough will also represent Europe for the first time in the biennial contest after the 15 year old won the British Boys Amateur Championship.
A selection committee comprising European Captain Maïtena Alsuguren and representatives from the European Golf Association and Ryder Cup Europe also chose England’s Robin Williams and Spaniards David Puig and Eduard Rousaud Sabate as the three other boys who will compete in Paris.
The committee was present at a number of key junior events and also took into account performances in national championships plus standings in national and European Amateur Golf Rankings.
The girls’ representation is headed up by Emma Spitz of Austria, who will play in the event for a second time after winning this year’s Girls British Open Amateur Championship.
Italian Emilie Alba Paltrinieri will also make her second appearance in the event having competed in 2016, while her fellow Italian Alessia Nobilio, England’s Annabell Fuller and Swedes Amanda Linner and Ingrid Lindblad will make their Junior Ryder Cup debuts in Paris.
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.
It has been the platform from which successful professional careers have been launched for numerous players.
Masters Tournament winner 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 Pettersen played in the Junior Ryder Cup in 1997 and 1999 before becoming one of Europe’s greatest female golfers and taking part in eight Solheim Cups.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy was in the victorious 2004 Junior Ryder Cup team, and since then he has won four Major Championships and three Ryder Cups.
Americans Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth have made the transition from Junior Ryder Cup players to Major Champions – Spieth was part of a record-breaking US team in 2008 while the pair both played together in the 2010 edition of the event.
Hunter Mahan, having been in the 1999 junior team, also went on to form part of the 2008, 2010 and 2014 US Ryder Cup sides.
Other notable past Junior Ryder Cup players are Europe’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Rafa Cabrera Bello, who both played in 1999 and have gone on to become European Tour winners and Ryder Cup players, along with American Lexi Thompson, who played in 2008 and has gone on to win one Major Championship and two Solheim Cups.