Team USA sealed an emphatic 16 - 8 point victory over Team Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup at Blairgowrie Golf Club. With a three point lead overnight, the Americans needed five points from Tuesday’s 12 singles matches to reclaim the trophy won on American soil at Olympia Fields in 2012.
On a cold, sun-kissed morning, the singles matches got underway on the majestic Rosemount course. The signs weren’t looking good early on for Europe – they were down in four of the eight matches after 9 o’clock.
As the crowds grew to watch The Amateur Champion, Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil, there was a glimmer of hope for the European side. He led Sam Burns three up after 10 holes and looked to be on course to give Europe a much needed point.
Neil lost holes 12 and 13 to hold a narrow lead and halting any European momentum. By this point all the singles matches were on the course with America leading in six, Europe in two, with four matches were level.
The opening match was completed on the short 15th hole with Sierra Brooks defeating Emily Pedersen 4&3. First point to the USA and a commanding 8 ½ to 4 ½ lead.
In the second match Bradley Neil managed to regain his 3up advantage over Sam Burns and with three holes remaining he was certain not to lose.
Drama began on 16 where Neil fluffed his chip from the side of the green meaning bogey was enough for Burns to survive defeat.
On the picturesque 17th Burns hit a sensational iron over the flag on the par-3 and holed the resulting putt to take the match down to the last.
On the final hole, Neil hit his drive behind a tree which set up an intriguing climax. With Burns safely on the green in two but a long way from the hole, Neil flew his second shot over the green. His chip shot was beautifully judged making almost certain of a par 4. But the drama hadn’t finished: Burns holed a sensational monster putt across the green for birdie. The loud cheers all but extinguished any European hopes.
USA had won three of the five completed matches by late morning with the other two matches halved. Team USA required only one point to reclaim the Junior Ryder Cup.
At 12.30, it fell to Amy Lee to win it for the Americans with an emphatic 6&5 victory.
In the end the American team won seven of the 12 singles matches, losing only two with three matches halved. Crowds gathered around the magnificent clubhouse at Blairgowrie to congratulate both sides on a terrific contest and presented Team USA with the trophy for their eight-point margin of victory.
A short distance away from the clubhouse is the Wee Course. It is normally a quiet area of the golf club – ideal for beginners. However over the past two days it has been host to nearly 3,000 young children across Scotland. We asked you to “Bring on the noise!” and the ClubGolf activity zone became Scotland’s busiest ‘wee’ course in what is a momentous week of golf in our nation.
The activity area set up by the ClubGolf team including volunteers and PGA professionals who assembled to deliver fun and enjoyable coaching for the thousands of young people attending. Exactly 2,869 children from 126 schools representing 14 local authorities across Scotland attended the event.
Local volunteer and PE teacher Andy Kerr said it was “vital for golf to see so many kids out playing.” He added “we need more events like this so golf can experience similar effects to those generated at the Commonwealth Games.”
PGA professional Graham Mackay said the ClubGolf event “was a great way to get kids attracted to the game” by providing an “active and enjoyable experience” to compliment the Junior Ryder Cup.
Morag Jamieson, Principle Teacher at Craigbank Primary, said that the wee course assembled “looks fantastic and is providing so much fun for the children.” Since the ClubGolf initiative started in the school in 2003 participation has been growing. They have a link with Tillicoultry Golf Club and provide coaching sessions to continue to develop interest in the game.
Janice Manson said “it is essential for the club [Tillicoultry] to attract the children. They are the future. We, on the council, have to make it as much fun as possible.”
It is clear many of the children felt inspired to continue to play as they watched the action a few yards away on Rosemount which gave them an idea of what practice can lead to. Many simply learnt about etiquette, rules and scoring. But it looked as though they all had fun!