Fifty-six junior champions are polishing their games for the tenth anniversary edition of the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from 13-15 September.
The 28 boys and 28 girls who, as per usual, will be playing alongside each other in the same event, hail from all over the golfing globe – from Iceland down to South Africa, from America across to Korea. They are the stars of the future and, judging from the progress which has been made by past participants, that future is not too far away… .
Rory McIlroy and Anna Nordqvist, participants in 2004, have both gone on to win a Major, while the still teenage Matteo Manassero, who competed in 2007, already has two PGA European Tour titles under his belt.
For the most recent up-date, Oliver Fisher, the DOY Young Champion Trophy winner of 2005, has just captured the Czech Open.
Seventeen-year-old Harrison Greenberry, the 2011 British Boys’ champion, and Edoardo Torrieri, the 17-year-old Italian Boys’ Stroke-Play champion, are among the favourites for this tenth anniversary instalment. As, indeed, are Haydn Porteous, the South African Boys’ champion, and Joshua Jamieson, his Scottish equivalent.
But every boy in the field will be looking twice at the names Maguire and Jutanugarn and not just because there are two of each.
In both cases, they are sisters with a level of matching credentials to suggest that a bit of sibling rivalry can be the best way ahead.
The 16-year-old Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa, have the lowest handicaps among the 56 competitors. Leona, the current British Ladies’ Stroke-Play champion and Portuguese Ladies’ champion, is a believe-it-or-not +5.3, while Lisa, the European Ladies’ and Spanish International champion, is off +4.2.
As for Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya, now 17, was the first girl to win the Duke of York Young Champions – namely, at Dundonald Links in 2009. The 15-year-old Ariya, for her part, has enjoyed a 2011 season in which she captured the USPGA Girls’ championship along with the Junior Orange Bowl.
“We are thrilled with the strength of this year’s field,” said the Duke of York, proudly. “We wanted this tenth anniversary year to be something special and it seems that virtually all the best young players in the world are converging on Hoylake.
“Every year, I’m struck by the sight of so many young people intent on making the best of their golfing talents.”