Buckinghamshire’s Conor Gough has earned a place in Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup team to face America at Golf Disneyland in Paris next month.
Gough gained an automatic place on the European team after winning last week’s Boys Amateur Championship, and the 15-year-old from Stoke Park will be one the youngest players ever to play in the event when he joins his 11 teammates in Paris.
The 11thstaging of the tournament takes place from September 24-25, and acts as a curtainraiser for the main event, which is being held at nearby Le Golf National from September 28-30.
The Junior Ryder Cup, which officially started in 1997, is open to girls and boys aged 18, who qualify by earning points at elite amateur tournaments throughout the season, while the captains also have two wildcard picks.
Another automatic qualifier for the European team, which comprises six girls and six boys, is Emma Spitz from Austria, who won last week’s Girls British Open Amateur Championship, which was held at Ardglass in Northern Ireland. Europe’s team will also boast a set of twins – with 17-year-old Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark, both having qualified.
America has won the last five Junior Ryder Cups, including a 15½-8½ victory at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota in 2016. It’s team for 2018 will include two-time Boys Junior PGA Champion Akshay Bhatia of North Carolina, and 15-year-old Lucy Li from California, the top girl qualifier, who will be playing in her second Junior Ryder Cup. The other confirmed US team members are Yealimi Noh, Rose Zhang, Rachel Heck, Erica Shepherd, Alexa Pano, and Michael Thorbjornsen.
Europe has won only three of the 10 matches and will be keen to break its current losing streak on home ground. The team is being captained by Maïtena Alsuguren, who is the Deputy National Technical Director of French Golf.
A growing number of past players in these junior matches have gone on to enjoy successful careers at the top level, starting with Sergio Garcia who was just 15 when he played for Europe in an unofficial match in 1995. Other recent Junior Ryder Cuppers include Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Suzann Pettersen, Lexi Thompson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Hunter Mahan, Carlota Ciganda and Carly Booth.