PARIS, FRANCE – Riding the depth of a formidible team, the United States came back to take a 4-2 lead during Monday Morning Foursomes in the 11th Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.
With a lot of blue starting to emerge on the scoreboard, the U.S. turned things around in what seemed like an instant.
Europe's Emma Spitz and Ingrid Lindblad grabbed the first point of the day 4&3 over California's Rose Zhang and Florida's Alexa Pano. But Kentuckian Canon Claycomb and Californian Ricky Castillo then earned the first U.S. point of the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup 4&3 over Europe's David Puig and Eduard Rousaud Sabate.
"We worked together as a unit not two individual people, and we came out with a 'W,'" said Claycomb.
In what appeared to be a match starting to go sideways, Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, California, and Erica Shepherd, 17, of Greenwood, Indiana, caught fire, 5&3, for what was not as easy a win as it appeared. They grabbed an early 3-1 lead over Annabell Fuller and Amanda Linner, only to see Europe tie it up quickly. Despite two frustrating rulings on Holes. No. 9 and No. 10, the American girls grabbed six out of eight holes between No. 7 and the close out on No. 15 in stunning fashion.
"I think its huge getting that big point, and it gives us great momentum going into the afternoon," said Li, the No. 1 ranked girls player, who is playing in her second Junior Ryder Cup.
"We knew coming in it would be intense with the greatest of junior players in the world on both sides," said U.S. Captain Allen Wronowski. "The Euros jumped off to a quick start. So, I visited with each group to settle them down and play their own game, and that was one heckuva of a rally for a comeback."
MORE: Junior Ryder Cup scoring
In a toe-to-toe match, Cole Ponich, 18, of Farmington, Utah, and William Moll, 17, of Houston, Texas won the anchor match 2-up over Europe's Robin "Tiger" Williams and Connor Gough, both of England.
Ponich sank three key putts in a row on the front nine (Nos. 4-5-6), including a 30-foot birdie on Hole No. 5 to flip the match into a dramatic seasaw battle.
Later, on No. 17 Golch made a remarkable pitch from behind the cart path to within 4-feet of the hole. The Americans offered a "good-good" but Europe politely declined. Ponich made a 3-footer, and Williams' putt to tie from roughly a foot-and-a-half barely lipped out, giving the U.S. a 1-up run, into what would lead to a concession win on Hole No. 18.
"We have similar games, so it is a lot of fun to play with William," said Ponich.
The afternoon fourball is underway, as the teams vie for a clubhouse lead after Day 1 and into Tuesday's final day singles.
USA leads EUROPE, 4-2
Match 1 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri/Alessia Nobilio (EUR) Halved Yealimi Noh/Rachel Heck (USA)
Match 2 – Nicolai Hojgaard/Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) Halved Akshay Bhatia/Michael Thorbjornsen (USA)
Match 3 – Emma Spitz/Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) 4&3 over Rose Zhang/Alexa Pano (USA)
Match 4 – Canon Claycomb/Ricky Castillo (USA) 4&3 over David Puig/Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR)
Match 5 – Lucy Li/Erica Shepherd (USA) 5&3 over Annabell Fuller/Amanda Linner (EUR)
Match 6 – William Moll/Cole Ponich (USA) 2-Up over Conor Gough/Robin Tiger Williams (EUR)
Junior Ryder Cup Schedule
(all times GMT+2/EDT is 6 hours behind)
Monday, Sept. 24 8:30 a.m. Session One – Foursomes USA 4 Europe 2
Monday, Sept. 24 1:20 p.m. Session Two – Mixed Fourball
Tuesday, Sept. 25 9:00 a.m. Session Three – Singles
Tuesday, Sept. 25 3:30 p.m. Trophy Presentation
Wednesday, Sept. 26 3:00 p.m. GolfSixes Match
About the 2018 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team
The 2018 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team, features 12 of the country's top junior golfers, will face Europe for the 11th Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris, Sept. 24-25. Captained by PGA Past President Allen Wronowski, PGA, the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team will feature six boys and six girls who are U.S. citizens and members of the high school graduating class of 2019, or younger.
The American Junior Ryder Cup Team—which is vying for its sixth straight Junior Ryder Cup victory—features 2017 and 2018 Boys Junior PGA Champion Akshay Bhatia of North Carolina; as well as Californians Lucy Li, Rose Zhang and Yealimi Noh, who won the last three Girls Junior PGA Championships, respectively. Joining them on the team are Kentucky's Canon Claycomb, California's Ricky Castillo, Texas' William Moll, Utah's Cole Ponich, Massachusetts' Michael Thorbjornsen, Tennessee's Rachel Heck, Indiana's Erica Shepherd and Florida's Alexa Pano.
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How They Rank...
The U.S. Team features the No. 1 ranked (by Golfweek) Boys and Girls players in Akshay Bhatia and Lucy Li. The team also has the Nos. 3, 5, 6, 10, and 17th ranked girls players in Noh, Shepherd, Heck, Pano and Zhang; and the Nos. 3, 9, 13 and 16th ranked boys players in Castillo, Thorbjornsen, Moll and Claycomb. All six girls are ranked in the Top 20…All six boys are ranked in Top 50 (5 of 6 boys ranked in Top 20).
Last week in France, Rachel Heck, 16 of Memphis, Tennessee, was the only amateur to make the cut at the 2018 Evian Championship, an LPGA major (T-44). She also made the cut at the 2017 U.S. Women's Open (T-33).
Impressive List of Junior Ryder Cup Alumni
Among the Junior Ryder Cup alumni are major champions, PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players, Ryder Cup Team Members and Solheim Cup Team Members including: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Hunter Mahan, Tony Finau, Lexi Thompson, Alison Lee and Brittany Altomare of the United States; and Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Nicolas Colsaerts, Suzann Pettersen, Emily Pedersen and Carlota Ciganda of Europe.
A total of 5 players competing in the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National later this week are Junior Ryder Cup Alumni – Spieth, Thomas and Finau (U.S.); and McIlroy and Garcia (Europe). Garcia played in an exhibition in 1995 that served as the precursor to the Junior Ryder Cup.
European Junior Ryder Cup Team
The 2018 European Junior Ryder Cup Team, led by returning Captain Maïtena Alsuguren, features two players who played on their 2016 Team in Austria’s Emma Spitz, 18, and Italy’s Emilie Alba Paltrinieri, 16. Europe’s team also includes Identical twins in Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard, both 17, of Denmark, as well as: Spain’s David Puig, 17, and Eduard Rousaud Sabate, 18; England’s Conor Gough, 15, Robin Williams, 16, and Annabell Fuller, 16; Italy’s Alessia Nobilio, 17; and Sweden’s Amanda Linner, 17, and Ingrid Lindblad, 18.
History of the Junior Ryder Cup
The idea for the Junior Ryder Cup came about in 1995, when a team of Europeans played an informal exhibition match against the Central New York PGA Section and area juniors. Sergio Garcia represented Europe in this match. Two years later, the Junior Ryder Cup was formally introduced as an event in its own right, while played at Alcaidesa Links Golf Course, in Cadiz, Spain, and won by America, 9-7.
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The Last Time Around...
The United States captured the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota, 15 1/2 to 8 1/2. A total of 10 players from the 2016 U.S. team are slated to be on NCAA Division I college golf rosters for the 2018-19 school year. Norman Xiong, who received the Jack Nicklaus Award as 2018 NCAA Division I National Player of the Year, just turned pro.
The French Golf Federation brought approximately 3,000 young school children out to the course...and they made quite a big splash as spectators, high fiving players, rolling down hills and telling each other to whisper (in French) when the players were hitting the ball.
GolfSixes at the Ryder Cup featuring Junior Ryder Cup teams
The GolfSixes match is an exhibition event which will feature the European and US teams from the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup Wednesday at Le Golf National, site of the 2018 Ryder Cup. The matches are played over six holes (1, 2, 15, 16, 17, 18), in a Mixed Greensomes Match Play format. Each hole won is worth a point and the pairing with the most points after six holes wins the match. The team with most matches won, wins the GolfSixes at the Ryder Cup. Total number of holes won will decide the winner in the event of a draw.
2018 Junior Ryder Cup Teams
- Akshay Bhatia, 16, Wake Forest, North Carolina
- Canon Claycomb, 16, Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, Wellesley, Massachusetts
- Ricky Castillo, 17, Yorba Linda, California
- William Moll, 17, Houston, Texas
- Cole Ponich, 18, Farmington, Utah
- Lucy Li, 15, Redwood Shores, California
- Yealimi Noh, 16, Concord, California
- Rose Zhang, 15, Irvine, California
- Rachel Heck, 16, Memphis, Tennessee
- Erica Shepherd, 17, Greenwood, Indiana
- Alexa Pano, 14, Lake Worth, Florida
- Nicolai Hojgaard, 17, Denmark
- Rasmus Hojgaard, 17, Denmark
- David Puig, 16, Spain
- Eduard Rousaud Sabate, 18, Spain
- Conor Gough, 16, England
- Robin Williams, 16, England
- Emma Spitz, 18, Austria
- Emilie Alba Paltrinieri, 17, Italy
- Alessia Nobilio, 17, Italy
- Annabell Fuller, 16, England
- Amanda Linner, 17, Sweden
- Ingrid Lindblad, 18, Sweden