Golf: Junior Ryder Cup to mirror its big brother

A SIGNIFICANT change to the standard practice for the event will see Blairgowrie stage the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup in the same week as the Ryder Cup is being played at Gleneagles.

It had been tradition for the junior version to be staged in the next European country hosting the Ryder Cup, hence why Gleneagles was the venue for the 2012 Junior Ryder Cup. In a move that makes complete sense, however, it has been decided that the two events should be staged in the same country and also in the same week.

The event at Blairgowrie will take place on 23-24 September 2014, with the Ryder Cup, a three-day affair, starting on Friday, 26 September. “We have decided to sync both events and that’s the way we are planning to go forward,” said Ryder Cup director Richard Hills at yesterday’s venue announcement at Gleneagles.

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It will be the biggest event to be held on the Rosemount Course since Blairgowrie hosted the Martini International on the European Tour in 1977.

“It is an honour for the club to be selected to host such a prestigious event,” said Blairgowrie club captain Allan McKay. “We look forward to welcoming the most talented junior golfers from European and the USA to our championship course and I know they will enjoy the spectacle of the challenge posed by the Ryder Cup format.”

Stuart Wilson, the former Amateur champion from Forfar, will captain the home team in Perthshire, a role he’ll fill for the first time when the 2012 match takes place at Olympia Fields in Illinois next month. “Blairgowrie is close to my heart,” said Wilson, who had a spell as an assistant professional at the club before returning to the amateur ranks, where he has become involved in captaining junior teams for the SGU in recent years. “The Ryder Cup was also something that got me interested in golf when it started to become more competitive and one of my objectives as a player was always to beat Americans in team events.”

Carly Booth was on the European team for the match in Kentucky four years ago, but there are no Scots in the team for this year’s encounter. “Hopefully that will change for 2014,” added Wilson, who picked out Bradley Neil, a Blairgowrie member, as one possible candidate to fly the saltire on home soil. “The Junior Ryder Cup is a great stepping stone and great experience for young players to build on.”

Among those to use the event as that stepping stone to bigger and better things is world No 1 Rory McIlroy.