Last updated on September 26th, 2023 at 07:00 PM
Europe and the United States are tied on six points each heading into the second day of the 2023 Junior Ryder Cup after a thrilling first day of the biennial event at Golf Nazionale in Rome, which included a sensational fightback from Scotland’s Connor Graham and Ireland’s Sean Keeling.
In a change to the previous format, the Junior Ryder Cup will now take place over three days instead of two with Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the Ryder Cup venue, hosting the decisive singles matches for the first time on Thursday. The final day will also be broadcast live on television.
The three-day tournament, featuring two teams of 12 of the best male and female junior players from Europe and the United States, began this morning in the Italian capital with foursomes – which saw Europe take a 4-2 lead – followed by mixed foursomes in the afternoon.
After a strong start from the Americans girls which saw Gianna Clemente and Yana Wilson grab the first point of the day with a 2&1 win over Spaniards Rocio Tejedo and Andrea Revuelta, the European girls fought back with German Helen Briem and Italian Francesca Fiorellini defeating Ryleigh Knaub and Kylie Chong 5&4 to earn Europe’s first point of the tournament.
The U.S. boys pairing of Jay Leng Jr. and Billy Davis looked to have secured another point for their team, jumping into a commanding 6 UP lead after nine holes in their match against Graham and Keeling, however the European duo bounced back heroically to tie the match.
In a toe-to-toe match Swedish duo Nora Sundberg and Meja Örtengren were level with Americans Anna Davis and Leigh Chien heading down the last, before the Europeans won the final hole to claim a 1 UP triumph.
Elsewhere Ukrainian Lev Grinberg and Englishman Kris Kim tied with Jackson Byrd and Will Hartman, while German Peer Wernicke and Italian Giovanni Binaghi overcame Miles Russell and Nicholas Gross 1 UP.
“It was a day of two halves,” said European Junior Ryder Cup Captain Stephen Gallacher. “The foursome play is always so close and it difficult for the players to find a rhythm. To end the day in a tie is a good and fair result, I felt we edged the morning session, and they were the better team in the afternoon.
“I’m so proud of all of my team, especially Sean and Connor this morning who refused to give in and showed incredible courage to come back from six down at the turn. It was evident that we won the morning session because of their score and the rest of the team fed of that energy.
“We have a great harmony in the group, and I could have paired anyone with anyone. Honours are even and we will try and win the two sessions tomorrow.
“Everyone is playing their own ball tomorrow and they will feel more comfortable with that so I am looking forward to another good day.”
During the afternoon mixed foursome sessions, the Europeans started brightly with a commanding 3&1 victory from Örtengren and Kim over Clemente and Byrd before the Americans mounted an impressive comeback from twins Anna Davis and Billy Davis – who birdied two of their three closing holes to tie with Tejedo and Graham.
Revuelta and Grinberg tied the third match with Chong + Jay Leng Jr, before the Americans sealed three consecutive victories from Wilson and Russell, Chien and Gross, plus Knaub and Hartman which meant the teams will enter the second day level on points.
“The whole day was close throughout and I think to finish six points each is a fair score,” said U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Captain Paul Levy. “A few things went the way of the Europeans in the morning and a few things went our way in the afternoon.
“We showed some great fighting spirit to bring the matches even and we never gave up. We stayed focus, made our putts and we are looking to carry that momentum into tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s four-ball matches, featuring all 24 players, will begin at 10:45am local time.