The Ryder Cup
Gleneagles in Scotland will provide the test for European and American golfers in 2014. Back in 1921, Gleneagles was the venue for an unofficial match between the professionals of Great Britain & Ireland and the US – an event that provided inspiration for the first Ryder Cup in 1927.
Victor Dubuisson – Age 22, France
Victor Dubuisson enjoyed a successful amateur career before graduating to The European Tour in 2011. It’s a sign of his self-confidence that the Frenchman finished a very creditable 24th in his first professional event. This early promise has been backed up with further progress in 2012. Most notably, he banked a career-high check for close to €125,000 for finishing joint third at the prestigious Ballantine’s Championship in Korea, which followed just a week after he tied fourth at the Volvo China Open. French golf is in the ascendancy, as was proved last May when a government-backed bid was successful in securing The 2018 Ryder Cup for the country.
Joost Luiten – Age 26, Netherlands
Joost Luiten won his maiden European Tour title at last year's Iskandar Johor Open and was prominent in the early rounds of the 2012 US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. His future Ryder Cup credentials were noted as an amateur when he won the 2005 German and Spanish Amateur Open titles and the Dutch National Open. More relevant, perhaps, was his inspirational role in the Netherlands’ surprise victory at the Eisenhower Trophy, a prestigious amateur team event, where he played his last five holes in six under par. Luiten is set to play a leading role as the Netherlands develops its golfing roots. The Dutch made a creditable bid to host The 2018 Ryder Cup and have committed to increasing the number of golfers in the country – success of players such as Luiten being central to that aim.
Matteo Manassero – Age 19, Italy
One of the most exciting young talents in European golf. He became the youngest winner on The European Tour when he won the Castello Masters in Spain in 2010. Victory came while he was still studying for his high school certificate in Turin. “I’m too young to have a drink and too young to drive. So I will not be buying a car and I have not got a girlfriend who would like a present,” he said after being presented with the winner’s check. Manassero followed up with a second career victory in Malaysia in 2011, two days before his 18th birthday. He was always a precocious talent. As a four-year-old at his home club in Italy, he challenged the late, great Seve Ballesteros to a chipping contest. The toddler holed his chip shot.
Thorbjørn Olesen – Age 22, Denmark
After a first European Tour victory at the Sicilian Open in March, success in a nailbiting five-way play-off at the qualifier at Sunningdale earned Thorbjørn Olesen entry into the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The long journey to The Open was rewarded when the Dane was paired with Tiger Woods on the first two days of the Championship. It was a good sign that Olesen handled the accompanying maelstrom with aplomb, almost matching the 14-time Major winner shot for shot. He was christened Jacob, but prefers Thorbjørn, one of his three middle names.
Bernd Wiesberger – Age 26, Austria
Bernd Wiesberger is one of the stories of the 2012 golfing year. He became only the second Austrian to win the country’s national championship, the Lyoness Open, after carding a brilliant seven-under-par final round of 65. He sealed the trophy with a 30-foot putt on the 18th green of the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, just an hour away from his home. The emotional victory came just three months after his first European Tour victory at the Ballantine's Championship in Korea. Wiesberger described the Austrian triumph as “the best day of my life so far”.