Keeling still undefeated as Europe take control at Junior Ryder Cup

Mark McGowan

Sean Keeling and Connor Graham(Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Europe are in prime position to end a run of six straight defeats in the Junior Ryder Cup as they take a six point lead over the United States into the final day at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.

After an incredible comeback to tie in the opening day’s foursomes, Sean Keeling, who’d been six down playing alongside Scotland’s Connor Graham and eventually fought back to force a tie, secured his first full point in the fourballs. Playing in the final match, Keeling partnered up with young Swede Nora Sundberg and took down Gianna Clemente and Will Hartman 3&1, completing the clean sweep on an incredible second day for Europe.

The two teams – comprising 12 of the best male and female junior players from each of Europe and the United States – entered the second day tied at 6-6, before the home side took control, winning all six four-ball matches at Golf Nazionale in Rome.

The Europeans made the perfect start to the four-balls when Spaniard Rocio Tejedo and Scotland’s Connor Graham overcame American twins Anna and Billy Davis 3&2 in the first match, before Sweden’s Meja Örtengren and Englishman Kris Kim also defeated Yana Wilson and Miles Russell 3&2.

Europe extended their lead with German duo Helen Briem and Peer Wernicke securing a 2&1 triumph over Leigh Chien and Nicholas Gross, followed by Italians Francesca Fiorellini and Giovanni Binaghi’s impressive 4&3 victory against Kylie Chong and Jay Leng Jr.

Team Europe continued to dominate as Spain’s Andrea Revuelta and Ukrainian Lev Grinberg overcame Ryleigh Knaub and Jackson Byrd 1 UP before Sundberg and Keeling defeated Clemente and Hartman 3&1 to make it six from six for Stephen Gallacher’s team.

The above image of Kris Kim and Meja Örtengren must be credited to Getty Images and used in conjunction with this release only. Please click on image to download a high-resolution version.
“It was awesome,” said Gallacher. “We came out firing and took control of the session from the word go. We took a hit yesterday afternoon and I knew they wanted to bounce back today. The team spirit yesterday evening was terrific and I’m so proud of all of them.

“Every player took control of their own game and they’ve done everything I could have asked of them. They were playing their own ball today which helped them play their own game.

“There are still 12 points left to play for and anything can happen. It’s important not to get complacent and we need to just focus on winning the session.

“I’m having an amazing time as Captain. The standard of golf is phenomenal, and I think seven under par was our lowest score today which is amazing to see. I’m seeing so many good shots that it is inspiring.”

U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Captain Paul Levy is hoping his team can bounce back tomorrow, with the Americans needing to recover the six-point deficit to retain the trophy.

“I’ve seen a lot of Ryder Cup competitions in my time and today we got beat emphatically,” he said. “They played exceptionally, and we didn’t put the ball in the hole quick enough.

“Tomorrow, we need to win nine of the 12 points to retain the Junior Ryder Cup and we’re going to have to dig deep and see if we can keep that cup.

“My boys and girls have heart. They’re going to go out there and be competitive. I’m hoping something very special can happen at Marco Simone.”

The decisive single matches will begin tomorrow at 7:30am local time at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the Ryder Cup venue, on the eve of the 44th edition of the biennial contest between Europe and the United States.

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