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The European Junior Ryder Cup Team arrives in Kentucky

Olde Stone ready for start of Junior Ryder Cup

By Roddy Williams,

Print News

The seventh Junior Ryder Cup gets underway tomorrow with the European boys and girls benefitting from the expertise and inspiration of Tommy Horton MBE, the first Honorary Captain of the European Team.

The Junior Ryder Cup takes place at The Club at Olde Stone, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Monday and Tuesday before the two teams play a Friendship exhibition match at Valhalla on Wednesday, where two days later Nick Faldo's European Team will launch their bid to win The Ryder Cup for a fourth successive time against Paul Azinger's US Team.

Since the inaugural Junior Ryder Cup in 1995, Europe have won four matches, the United States one with the last match, in 2006 at The Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales, dramatically halved six points apiece. Sergio Garcia, who this week will compete in his fifth Ryder Cup, played in that first Junior Ryder Cup contest.

This year, European Captain Gary Stangl's 12-strong Team includes the Irish golfing sensations, 13-year-old identical twins Lisa and Leona Maguire, Spain's Anna Arrese, Scotland's Carly Booth, Kelly Tidy of England and Denmark's Daisy Nielsen.

The boys half of the team comprises the French duo of Stanislas Gautier and Julien Brun, Germany's Moritz Lampert, Spain's Adrian Otaegui, Englishman Chris Lloyd and Italy's Matteo Manassero.

Horton has made a massive contribution to the game throughout his career as a Ryder Cup player, tournament winner, skilled administrator as a member of the PGA European Tour Board of Directors and Chairman of the Seniors Tour Committee, course designer and renowned coach, and this week his support of the team is proving invaluable in helping the six boys and girls to prepare for the match against the United States.

His contribution was recognised prior to the team's departure when George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, presented Horton with a Rolex watch, courtesy of the Official Partners to The Ryder Cup, to mark his appointment as Honorary Captain of the European Junior Ryder Cup Team.

Widely recognised as one of the finest short game exponents in golf, Horton's expertise is sure to help the European Team deal with the challenge of The Club at Olde Stone, a course with challenging greens and run-offs where chipping and putting will be of a premium.

He said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for all these young players, something they have never experienced.

"Gary (Stangl), Fredrik (Lindgren) and I have been helping them prepare as I don't think they have played a golf course like this before. It is a marvellous opportunity and hopefully we can use our collective knowledge to help them out a little.

"Since the team arrived in Kentucky on Friday, they have bonded and are now communicating as a team and that is the whole objective of this. The European Ryder Cup Team has shown us that the way to win is as a team and that is what we are working towards."

European Junior Ryder Cup Captain Gary Stangl is excited to showcase his European players.

"They do not have to prove anything, they have played well and are very motivated," said Stangl, who was a member of the Austrian National Junior Team from 1993-'95, and was a member of the Austrian National Team from 1995-'99. "I want to make sure they feel comfortable with each other and have a lot of fun."

The Junior Ryder Cup will be played on Monday 15 September and Tuesday 16 September featuring six foursomes matches followed by mixed fourball on the first day and 12 singles matches on day two. This is a change of format from previous years and will generate twice as many points to play for and makes the format a mini version of The Ryder Cup.

The Friendship Match is a new addition which will see the juniors playing a nine hole exhibition at Valhalla on Wednesday 16 September which will be a phenomenal experience for the juniors competing on The Ryder Cup Course just two days before The 2008 Ryder Cup between the United States and Europe gets underway.