Malone native to captain USA Junior Ryder Cup team

Derek Sprague is shown speaking at a PGA of America function when he was elected as the association’s president in 2014. File photo

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The PGA of America has named past PGA President Derek Sprague as the captain of the 2020 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team.

The United States will face Team Europe in the 12th Junior Ryder Cup at Blue Mound Golf and Country Club near Milwaukee on Sept. 21-22. Sprague is a former standout golfer at Franklin Academy in Malone and director of golf at the Malone Country Club.

A 2019 inductee into the PGA of America Hall of Fame, Sprague is the general manager of TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where he has served since 2017. He previously was the managing director of Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, and oversaw the club’s preparation for the 2017 Presidents Cup. For 27 years prior, Sprague was the general manager and director of golf at the Malone Golf Club.

In 2019, he captained the United States PGA Cup Team to a stirring comeback victory over Great Britain & Ireland.

Through Sprague’s leadership as PGA president from 2014-16, the PGA was instrumental in growing the game through player development and youth programs, such as PGA Jr. League and the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship.

In addition, he co-chaired the Ryder Cup Task Force, which created a long-term blueprint for success in the event. Sprague also served the association as PGA honorary president, PGA vice president and PGA secretary.

The American team is vying for its seventh straight victory in the biennial competition with Europe, and the United States holds an overall record of 7-3-1 in the event. Among the Junior Ryder Cup alumni are major champions, PGA Tour players and LPGA Tour players including: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Hunter Mahan, Tony Finau, Lexi Thompson, Alison Lee and Brittany Altomare of the United States; and Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Nicolas Colsaerts, Suzann Pettersen, Emily Pedersen and Carlota Ciganda of Europe. The European Team recently named 1999 U.S. Open Cshampion Paul Lawrie as its captain.

The U.S. Team will feature six boys and six girls who are U.S. citizens and members of the high school graduating class of 2021 or younger. All potential players must compete in the 2020 Girls or Boys Junior PGA Championship to be eligible, unless exceptional circumstances prevent the player from competing.

There will be 10 players who qualify as exemptions and two captain’s picks. The final U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team will be announced by the PGA of America on Monday, Aug. 3, following the 45th Girls Junior PGA Championship.

“It is a great honor to represent the United States and captain a team of the finest junior golfers in our country,” Sprague said. “I look forward to our team competing against Europe’s top players, led by their distinguished captain Paul Lawrie, in this special international event.”

The idea for the Junior Ryder Cup came about in 1995, when a team of Europeans, including Sergio Garcia, played an informal exhibition match against the Central New York PGA Section and area juniors. Two years later, the Junior Ryder Cup was formally introduced as an event at Alcaidesa Links Golf Course, in Cadiz, Spain, and won by the United States, 7-5.

The U.S. captured the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris 12 1/2 to 11 1/2 for its sixth consecutive victory.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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