The exclusive La Zagaleta Golf Club in southern Spain has been chosen host the PING Junior Solheim Cup in 2023.
The team matchplay event between elite juniors from Europe and the USA will be played on September 18-19, just a few days before the 2023 Solheim Cup, which will be held from September 22-24 at neighbouring Finca Cortesín.
The Old Course at La Zagaleta was designed by Brad Benz in 1991 and later redesigned by Marc Westenborg in 2016.
“We’re very excited to bring the 2023 PING Junior Solheim Cup to the Old Course at La Zagaleta,” said John Solheim, PING Chairman & CEO. “It’s a tremendous club that will surely challenge the girls as they play for the honor and pride of their countries. The event continues to grow in popularity and bringing it to Spain for the first time adds to its stature and history.
“I’m personally looking forward to attending the event as it is always one of the highlights of the week for me. It brings me a lot of joy to see these talented young ladies compete and pull off great shots with so much pressure. Playing for team and country for the Junior Solheim Cup is inspiring. There is nothing like it. It’s an experience they’ll remember forever.”
José Antonio Mena, Mayor of Benahavis, host municipality of the PING Junior Solheim Cup, said: “We thank La Zagaleta for its commitment to this wonderful event and to the Ladies European Tour and PING for making it possible. It is a great decision that the future golf stars get to come and play in Andalusia and especially in Benahavis. We, through the municipal golf school, encourage many girls to get started with this wonderful sport and, undoubtedly, the PING Junior Solheim Cup will motivate them to continue practicing it. I would love to see a girl from Benahaville qualify to represent Europe, but regardless of whether she makes it or not, we would like the PING Junior Solheim Cup to be an absolute highlight. I think we are looking at a unique and historic opportunity.”
He concluded: “This is an event that will transcend beyond the merely sporting, we will have the opportunity to assert our great complementary offer, based on the climate, but also on our hotels, our organizational capacity, our gastronomy, our leisure and our culture. And I have to say that we are going to do it with all the generosity that such a tournament deserves.”
Bertil Hult, Member of the Board of La Zagaleta Golf Club, opened the event and thanked the Solheim Cup for having chosen this course to hold the PING Junior tournament. While Jacobo Cestino, CEO of La Zagaleta, remembered the players who have participated in previous editions, and celebrated the fact that today is International Women’s Day. He said: “Golf is a sport that gives young people character, patience, respect, and tolerance. Some values necessary to successfully develop their adult life.”
Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, expressed his satisfaction at the competition. He said: “The PING Junior Solheim Cup is much more than an interesting prologue to the Solheim Cup. Witnessing the game of the young players, predicting which of them are going to reach the top in the future, checking that they take golf as true professionals despite their youth… all this is an exciting experience that we have to take advantage of.”
He added: “Spain has contributed with many great players who have gone on to become stars of our sport and excellent representatives in the Solheim Cup, such as Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Muñoz and Beatriz Recari, to give three good examples. For all these reasons, we will not only enjoy the three days of competition of the Solheim Cup, but a whole week of great events that will put Andalusia and Spain in the epicentre of media attention thanks to golf.”
Eva-Lotta Strömlid, Project Director of the PING Junior Solheim Cup, added: “The girls coming to play here are the top 12 girls from Europe and the top 12 girls from the United States, under 18. All the history tells you they will be the future number one golf players, Major winners and Solheim Cup players. The PING Junior Solheim Cup gives them an opportunity to travel that path.
“The PING Junior Solheim Cup gives dreams to younger players to keep playing to one day make the European and the US team. But it is not only about the golf we develop with tournaments like this at La Zagaleta, it’s also about life experiences. We will see great matches being played but we will also help out connecting the girls, and it’s also about friendship and connections between organisations.
The PING Junior Solheim Cup was created in 2002 to serve as a version of the Solheim Cup for young amateurs under the age of 18. It has a similar format to that of the professional players, pitting the 12 best European golfers against the same number from the United States.
The European team will be announced in August 2023, and it will be formed from the best six players on a ranking established from different amateur tournaments that season and six players will be chosen by the captain.