PAUL Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion and two-time Ryder Cup player, will captain Europe at the 2020 Junior Ryder Cup, which will take place at Wisconsin’s Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in Milwaukee.
The Scotsman, an eight-time European Tour winner, represented Europe at the 1999 Ryder Cup and will now lead Europe’s best juniors against their American counterparts in September.
Lawrie was also a member of the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ team, which staged a monumental comeback on the final day in 2012 to retain the Ryder Cup winning 14½-13½ on American soil.
The 50-year-old’s involvement in junior golf started in 2001 with the launch of the Paul Lawrie Foundation.
It provides opportunities for juniors to start playing golf. Its main goal is to encourage as many young people to play golf as possible.
The Junior Ryder Cup, held in the days before the Ryder Cup, sees the best male and female junior amateurs from Europe and the USA go head-to-head in a mixed event.
The biennial contest has seen many stars from world golf feature in the junior competition before excelling at the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup.
Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy both succeeded in the event before also winning the Ryder Cup, while Suzanne Peterson and Carlota Ciganda triumphed as amateurs before lifting the Solheim Cup.
“As soon as the call came in, I didn’t need long to think about taking on the role,” said Lawrie.
“To be able to lead a team of the best juniors in Europe against America will be a completely novel experience for me. In terms of how I see the game growing, it’s an important role.
“It’s going to be full-on over the next 10 months. I’m really looking forward to getting to some events during the year and watching the kids play.
“I’m absolutely delighted that I have been asked to captain the Junior Ryder Cup team.
“My wife, Marian, and I started the foundation to get as many kids into the game as we possibly could.
“I bring a huge enthusiasm for junior golf to the role. It’s where the game needs to be – sadly that still gets lost on some members at golf clubs not treating juniors how they deserve to be treated.
“Today’s juniors are tomorrow’s adults, and that’s an important message,” added Lawrie, who was one of Darren Clarke’s vice-captains at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Lawrie earned three-and-a-half points for the European cause in the infamous “Battle of Brookline,” with two-and-a-half points coming from his partnership with Colin Montgomerie.
He also defeated Jeff Maggert in the Sunday singles as America – captained by Ben Crenshaw – staged remarkable final day comeback.
The event was marred by the US players and supporters in the gallery inside the ropes surging on to the 17th green after Justin Leonard holed a long range putt before Jose Maria Olazabal had finished the hole.
The incident in Massachusetts combined with a hostile crowd that targeted the European team – and Colin Montgomerie in particular on Sunday – sparked further controversies when European captain Mark James published his account in Into the Bearpit.
Lawrie then earned his place in The 2012 Ryder Cup side at Medinah, winning Europe’s second point on Sunday, defeating Brandt Snedeker 5&3, as he and his teammates battled back from a 10-6 deficit to win the biennial contest 14½-13½.
Both the European and United States Junior Ryder Cup teams will feature six boys and six girls, who must not have turned 18 before January 1, 2020 – and must not be enrolled to play college golf in the USA during that year.
American stars to have featured in the Junior Ryder Cup include Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare.
In 2018, at Golf Disneyland Paris, Europe narrowly missed out on a first victory since 2006, as Team USA triumphed 12½-11½.
The hosts included Danish twins Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgard, who are already playing on the Challenge and European Tours repsectively in 2020, and Stoke Park’s Conor Gough, who was crowned English Amateur Champion in August, at the age of just 16.
Surrey’s Annabel Fuller was also on the 2018 team, while Wentworth’s Annabel Dimmock, played in 2014 – and claimed her first Ladies European Tour victory this summer.
The selection process for the 2020 European Junior Ryder Cup team, including confirmation of qualifying events from The R&A and European Golf Association’s schedule for next year, will be announced shortly.
The match takes place at Blue Mound G&CC, from September 21-22, while the 2020 Ryder Cup takes place four days later at Whistling Straits some 70 miles away, from September 25-27.
•For more information about the 2020 Ryder Cup click here.