Junior Presidents Cup: US holds off International comeback to win
- Junior Presidents Cup photo
- Junior Presidents Cup photo

The United States Team withstood a gallant fightback from the International Team to win the Junior Presidents Cup for a second consecutive time at a sun-baked The Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Monday.

After taking a comfortable 9-3 lead from the opening day’s Four-Ball and Foursomes sessions, the American junior golfers saw the International Team pull to within three points in the Singles session through five wins in the top six matches before Ian Siebers, Michael Thorbjornsen, Alexander Yang and Vishnu Sadagopan secured vital wins for the U.S. Team to secure a 13-11 victory.

Yang, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, battled to a 2-up win over Jordan Duminy to bring the U.S. Team’s total to 12 points before Sadagopan clinched the winning point with a 2-up victory over Joshua Greer.

The International Team won the session through victories by Jayden Schaper, Kartik Sharma, Andi Xu, Bo Jin, Jang Hyung Lee, Samuel Simpson, Martin Vorster and Christo Lamprecht.

U.S. Team Captain Justin Leonard said: “I knew it would be harder than they (his players) thought it would be and I tried to convey that and it was. I’m glad to see the International Team came out today. I knew they were capable of it and they did that.

“It’s hard playing against a player or team that is kind of mad and has nothing to lose. That’s a pretty dangerous combination. They started great and we were down on every match except the top match for a while. We got a couple of close ones go our way in the end, just like yesterday morning and afternoon. Those really made the difference for our team.”

Leonard, who featured in five Presidents Cups, believes his 12 junior golfers have every potential to become stars on the PGA TOUR in the near future.

“For the guys, I think this is a peek into what the PGA TOUR looks like, at least in a team aspect. This event mirrors the Presidents Cup in almost every way imaginable, maybe outside a few more thousand people and TV cameras. It was fantastic. Going forward, this should prepare them to want to achieve these kinds of things in the game of golf.

“When you get into a room and you are with the best 11 players in the field and where you are at the point, it makes you a better player. You look around and realize you’re one of the special groups, but it takes a lot of work to stay in that special group. A week like this can propel them to bigger and better things.”

Yang never held the lead against Duminy until the 17th hole which he won with a par and then clinched the 12th point for the Americans after his rival got into trouble with an errant drive on 18.

“Really happy. I couldn’t have thought about a better situation than to get the 12th point. It’s such an awesome experience to be here. I had two solid two putts on 17 and 18 that closed out the match. It’s so much fun to be around these guys. As a team, we fought back in the closing holes really well. I was worried but I thought I could certainly win my match. It was kind of worry and confidence at the same time. I’m going to watch how the pros attack this course in the Presidents Cup and see how their games are different and see how I can improve in the future,” said Yang, who holds one AJGA victory.

Sadagopan, winner of the C.T. Pan Junior Championship in April, was 1-down to Greer through 10 holes but won holes 11 and 13 to gain the upper hand before closing out the match with a par on the 18th hole, much to the jubilation of his teammates who were at greenside.

“It’s amazing, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life,” said Sadagopan.

“To win the winning point for my country is amazing, these guys are amazing. It was just a great week. Just all the memories and fun, I have learned a lot from my captain. I’ll take a lot from this. I’m going to watch the Presidents Cup and compare myself with how the pros play and what they do.”

International Team Captain Stuart Appleby was proud with how his charges made the Americans fight for their victory.

“We had a chat and a chuckle yesterday about what it’ll be … the Melbourne massacre, the Sanbelt-ing, you know, and I was so impressed today. The odds weren’t good and I told the guys to take it six holes at a time and try to get to a good start and move on. It wasn’t always pretty as the course was the biggest opponent today with the weather and they focused. I’m super proud how they turned around some matches.”

Like Leonard, Appleby believes many of his 12 players can go onto become leading golfers on the PGA TOUR. “I think so,” said the Australian, who has played in five Presidents Cups.

“I’ve tried to give them an idea of what golf is really about and how you try to break it down and how you should look at your progress and problems. Very rarely you hold that trophy and you’ll hold that trophy for five minutes but it’s taken hundreds, if not thousands of hours, just getting up to that point where you hold that trophy for five minutes and you put it down and you move on again. And that’s what Tiger (Woods) has done his whole career.”

“There’s a lot of talent. They’re good enough here, they’re much better when I was their age.”

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ABOUT THE Junior Presidents Cup

The Junior Presidents Cup features two days of match play with 12 of the best players from the United States and 12 players from the rest of the world with the exception of Europe. The event kicks off Presidents Cup week, at the end of which the professional teams compete at the same venue.

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