The waiting is over and the injured Servicemen and veterans representing Team GB and Team USA are ready to do battle of a very different sort as they take on each other on the opening day (Tuesday 24th) of the Simpson Cup at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club, England.
The Simpson Cup is the vision of John Simpson, who also founded On Course Foundation (OCF), a charity set up to facilitate injured Servicemen through the game via golf tuition and employment in the golf industry. The annual team event takes place on UK soil for the first time after the inaugural event was staged at TPC Sawgrass in Florida in 2012.
“After the success of last year’s inaugural tournament, I am thrilled that the second Simpson Cup is now taking place at the prestigious old course of Royal Lytham & St Annes,” said golfing legend Arnold Palmer, On Course Foundation Patron.
As the two 13-man teams arrived at the famous Lancashire venue, the week got underway with the official Opening Ceremony where both teams were introduced before the charity dinner in the clubhouse. Over £28,000 was raised for On Course Foundation on the night as guests dug deep and gave so generously for great auction items such as a limited edition Harold Riley artwork of the late Seve Ballesteros.
“Through the On Course Foundation our objective is to provide new direction and new hope for those that have given so much for their respective countries,” said John Simpson. “The Simpson Cup is the pinnacle of the OCF calendar and gives our members a target to work for each year.
“Making the squad of 13 players is a real accomplishment and I know each player has worked very hard to secure a place. To those that made the team I would like to offer my congratulations, to those who just missed out, I remind you that 13 spots are available for the 2014 event at Congressional Country Club in WashingtonD.C.”
Ian Bishop’s Team GB will be looking to defend the trophy they won so convincingly (11.5-6.5) at Sawgrass. However, Chris Bowers’ American side will hope they can level the standings at Royal Lytham & St Annes, founded in 1886, and host to 10 Open Championships – the most recent in 2012 when Ernie Els won – and two Ryder Cups.
The format for the tournament is six fourball matches to take place today (Tuesday) followed by 12 singles matches on Wednesday to determine the outcome. (see www.simsponcup.com for the fourball match pairings).
The curtain raiser to the main event saw Kenneth Mitchell, Steve Barrett, Neil Wormald and Paul Bennett team up to win the sponsor’s tournament with a fantastic stableford score of 97 points. They finished six points ahead of Jason Leap, Patrick Connors, Karen Connors and Nigel Beasley in second (91), while John Simpson holed a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th to help his team secure third playing alongside American captain Bowers, George Napier and Bob Beckett.
On Course Foundation www.oncoursefoundation.com