The 2008 Junior Ryder Cup may have been one to forget for the Europeans, but European Tour member Matteo Manassero still reflects fondly on the experience, despite a record-breaking 22-2 drubbing by the Americans.
The European team that took on the Americans at The Club at Olde Stone in Kentucky included the likes of Adrian Otaegui and LET star Carly Booth, as well as Manassero, whereas their victorious counterparts featured three time Major winner and former World Number One Jordan Spieth and current US Women’s Number One Lexi Thompson.
Booth would be the only European to avoid defeat, as she picked up half a point against the USA’s Jennifer Johnson.
Thompson, who was 13-years-old at the time, defeated Lisa Maguire by one hole on her way to a faultless week in which she picked up three wins in three. Spieth also secured victory in the singles with a 5 and 4 victory over Chris Lloyd.
The 14-year-old Manassero would see his match finish early as he fell to a 6&5 defeat to US Junior Amateur Champion Cory Whitsett.
And although the European players may have been on the wrong end of the scoreline, the Italian was still proud to have represented his continent and gave him a boost en route to becoming a future European Tour champion.
“It was a proud moment. You often play for your country as an amateur but it’s the only chance you get to play for your continent, so it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot,” said Manaserro.
“It’s such a great experience to be part of such a big tournament, and it definitely inspires you to work harder so that one day you too can have the chance to play in The Ryder Cup.
“The Americans had a very strong team including Jordan Spieth, so they ended up beating us quite easily, but I still had a great time.”
In terms of Team USA, this would be the first of Spieth’s two appearances in the Junior Ryder Cup, as he made the team for a second time two years later.
Ten years on, the American would have three Major championships to his name including a stint at World Number One.
And that experience of a Junior Ryder Cup held Spieth in good stead for his first senior appearance in 2014, where he won two matches, lost one and halved another.
Spieth said: “You already have the type of Ryder Cup experience but then you step foot inside the ropes into the actual arena as a spectator.
“You play the course, you see what the players are going to deal with and you get the opportunity to see the fire that the tournament brings out.
“If I hadn’t experienced that in the Junior Ryder Cup, that would have been a pretty big eye-opener for me in, especially an away game in my first Ryder Cup.”
Even a Junior Ryder Cup was enough to prove to Spieth just how different and incredible this biennial event is, especially when he was awarded the chance to watch the 2010 event at Celtic Manor after the Junior Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles.