European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew will join forces in a world first for professional golf when the innovative GolfSixes returns.
European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew will join forces in a world first for professional golf when the innovative GolfSixes returns to the European Tour schedule in May.
The Dane and the Scot will be the first male and female professionals to play together in a competitive match play format when they form the ‘Captains Team’ in the second staging of the tournament at the Centurion Club in St Albans, England, from May 5-6, 2018.
The ‘Captains Team’ is one of four exciting wild card selections introduced to this year’s event, with two of the other three being; an ‘England Women’s Team’ comprising Georgia Hall and Charley Hull; and a ‘European Women’s Team’ featuring England’s Mel Reid and Suzann Pettersen of Norway, all of whom will join defending champions Denmark, represented again by last year’s winners Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen.
The fourth and final wild card team will be revealed towards the end of next month alongside the 11 men’s national teams who will qualify automatically from the European Tour’s Category Ranking List. All 16 teams will compete for a total prize fund of €1 million with the eventual winners receiving €100,000 each.
It is appropriate that the current Ryder Cup Captain is at the forefront of the latest innovation from the European Tour as the Wednesday of The 2018 Ryder Cup week at Le Golf National will also feature a showcase GolfSixes event, played between the members of the respective Junior Ryder Cup teams.
Thomas Bjørn said: “I am really excited about playing GolfSixes. There are so many 72-hole tournaments around the world that there has to be room for something else which puts a different spin on golf and brings more interest.''
“This is not your normal golf tournament where everyone is very serious and has their heads down. This is completely different, it’s more about having fun and portraying the game in a good way.
“I think it’s hugely important to also try and break down the barriers that have existed in golf between the men’s and women’s games. When this opportunity arose to play as Ryder Cup Captain, I thought it was only right to speak to Catriona as the Solheim Cup Captain about forming a team, and we’re both really looking forward to it.
“It also sends the right message to our players too, that we’re European Captains and being a European Captain of any team is not just about your own Tour and your own players – it’s about representing everything about this great continent of ours.”
Catriona Matthew said: “I was delighted when Thomas asked me to play GolfSixes. I had to move my schedule around a little bit but the moment I heard about the chance to play, I definitely wanted to be part of it.
“The fact it is something different for golf is great – in terms of the round robin match play format then head to head matches, in addition to the men and women playing together of course. All Tours are trying to think of ways to make golf different and encourage a new and younger audience and so I think this whole concept is very exciting.
“I was playing in a tournament last year but I watched some of the inaugural GolfSixes on the television and read a bit about it and I always thought it was a good idea. Obviously, the matches are much quicker and match play itself tends to be exciting so it’s a good mix.”
Georgia Hall said: “It sounds like a great event and it will be nice to play in a team event and also to play with Charley again – I think we will have a good chance. I watched it on TV last year and it looked like a lot of fun so it’s great that we will be part of it this year.”
Data from the inaugural GolfSixes tournament last year showed a 42% increase in new golf fans at the event compared to regular European Tour events. Those attendees were also 14% younger than those seen during the rest of the golfing calendar.
Early Bird tickets for GolfSixes 2018, priced at just £10 for adults and £4 for children – with under 10s gaining free admission – are available https://www.eventbrite.com/e/golfsixes-2018-tickets-42313642243?aff=WildcardsAnnounce until Friday March 23. After that, tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £6 for children.
Image Credit- Getty Images
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