Richie Ramsay, who joined forces with Marc Warren to claim third spot for Scotland in last year’s inaugural event, will have a new partner in the second edition of the European Tour’s innovative GolfSixes in early May.
Flying the Saltire with the Aberdonian on this occasion at the Centurion Club in St Albans will be Scott Jamieson, the pair having earned the right to represent Scotland in the 16-team event through their Race to Dubai rankings.
Embracing a tournament that involved loud music and pyrotechnics on the first tee and a shot clock on elsewhere on the course, Ramsay and Warren gave an excellent account of themselves last year as Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, added some freshness to the circuit with this event.
The Scots found themselves in a “Group of Death” alongside Belgium, Spain and Thailand, but, after recording 3-2 wins over both Belgium and Spain, they progressed to the quarter-finals with a game to spare. The tartan twosome then beat Portugal 3-0 in the quarter-finals before losing 2-1 to Australia in the last four but bounced back from that disappointment to claim third spot with victory over Italy, which was eventually secured in a nearest-the-pin play-off.
“It’s been really good,” said Ramsay at the time. “It’s like everything. We need a bit of traction. We’ll go away and tell people what it was like. We take this first concept and refine it so it becomes really, really attractive for folk coming in.”
Changes for the second edition on 5-6 May have included the introduction of four wild card entries, one of which will see Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew joining forces with Ryder Cup skipper Thomas Bjorn in a Captains Team.They will become the first male and female professionals to play together in a competitive match play format on the European Tour while an England Women’s Team will comprise Charley Hull and Georgia Hall and a European Women’s Team will be made up of Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Mel Reid of England.
The final wild card team will be confirmed shortly for an event that sees a point awarded for each hole won in the six-hole contest, which carries a total prize fund of €1 million with the winners receiving €100,000 each.
In addition to Scotland, the confirmed qualified teams are England, France, Australia, Thailand, Italy, South Korea, South Africa, USA, Spain and Sweden, with Denmark getting in automatically as the defending champions. They will again be represented by Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen, last year’s winning duo, while England’s representatives this time around will be Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell, both winners for the first time on the European Tour this year.
“Playing in front of a home crowd is an exciting prospect and something I’ve always looked forward to,” said Wallace, who beat compatriot Andrew Johnston in a play-off to claim the Hero Indian Open title. “Last year it looked as if there were a lot of kids enjoying the whole experience, so it should be a lot of fun to play in front of so many young fans and hopefully get them excited about golf. I think it’s a great idea to have new and different formats like this on the European Tour, and, with the wildcard teams in the mix this year, there could be some intriguing match ups.”
France will be represented by 2017 KLM Open champion Romain Wattel and four-time European Tour winner Alexander Levy, while the last two winners of the UBS Hong Kong Open – Wade Ormsby and Sam Brazel – will compete on behalf of Australia.
Former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari will be joined by 21 year old Renato Paratore, who won his maiden title at the 2017 Nordea Masters, in the Italian team.
Three-time European Tour winner Jeunghun Wang and 2016 Shenzen International champion Soomin Lee will play on behalf of Korea in the country’s debut GolfSixes appearance, while the South African team of George Coetzee and Haydn Porteous boast six European Tour titles between them.
Julian Suri, who captured the 2017 Made in Denmark title, will play in a US team along with 2014 Omega European Masters winner David Lipsky, while Adrian Otaegui will represent Spain alongside Pablo Larrazábal. Sweden, who seized the final automatic qualification spot, are set to be represented by Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergren.
The shot clock will be in operation again, with players penalised if they take longer than 30 seconds per shot, while both long drive and closest-to-the-pin holes will add to the excitement as well.