An international field with 75 countries represented will gather for the Junior Open Championship at The West Lancashire Golf Club from 14-16 July.
First played in 1994, the Junior Open came under The R&A’s administrative umbrella in 2000 and is played every two years. All golfing nations affiliated to The R&A are invited to enter under-16 boy and girl golfers to compete in the 54-hole stroke play event.
Among the players to have competed in the Junior Open are Sergio Garcia, who won the first event in 1994, Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts, Camilo Villegas, Paula Creamer, Patrick Reed, who won at Heswall in 2006, the last time The Open was staged at Royal Liverpool, and Jordan Spieth, who was runner-up at Hesketh in 2008.
“The Junior Open has developed over the years and now has one of the most international fields to be found at any golf event anywhere in the world,” explains Alison White, Assistant Director – Golf Development at The R&A.
“This year there are 75 countries represented and not only is it a serious competitive event, it offers invaluable experience of playing links golf to the players. After the event the players will also have the opportunity to go along to spectate at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.”
A field of 126 players will tee it up at West Lancashire and play 36 holes before the top 80 and ties qualify to compete in the final round.
“For many players it will be the first time they will have competed outside their own country and we try to make it a memorable week for everyone. Delegates attending are also invited to meet and discuss golf development issues in their own countries with R&A officials,” added White.
It’s an impressive field with more than a dozen players holding scratch handicaps or better. Japan’s Yumi Matsubara from Kutsuki Golf Club plays off plus six, while Colombia’s Felipe Ramirez is the boy with the lowest handicap of plus two.
There will be considerable local interest too as Hollie Muse, representing England alongside Michael Gilbert, plays her golf at West Lancashire. The 14-year-old won the under-13 English Girls’ Championship in 2012 and has enjoyed a string of notable performances since then, including representing England in the 2014 European Girls’ Team Championship in Slovakia.
West Lancashire is a club with considerable history and one of the oldest in England, dating back to 1873. The club has hosted Final Qualifying competitions for The Open Championship in recent years. The traditional links layout will provide a good test for the junior competitors and boasts stunning views of the Mersey Estuary and the Welsh Mountains.