11 years ago this week, a young and talented 17-year-old Spaniard represented team Europe in the Bonallack Trophy. Little did anyone know at the time that he would go on to become a two-time major champion and the number-one ranked player in the world.
Jon Rahm was one of 12 players selected to represent the European team in the three-day match, and helped his side to a 21.5 to 10.5 victory over Asia-Pacific. Rahm wasn’t the only future major champion at the event, that week. The Asia-Pacific team that year featured a 20-year-old Hideki Matsuyama and an 18-year-old Cameron Smith.
The list of former players of the match, whose namesake is Sir Michael Bonallack, contains numerous big names in the world of golf. Since it was first contested in 1998, Rory McIlroy (2006), Danny Willett (2008), Justin Rose (1998), Francesco Molinari (2004) and Shane Lowry (2008) all competed for Europe ahead of becoming major champions and Ryder cup stars. The list also includes Nicolas Colsaerts (2000), Jamie Donaldson (1998), Peter Hanson (1998), Edoardo Molinari (2002 & 2004), and Chris Wood (2008) amongst a host of other names.
The last edition of the match in 2018 also featured familiar names such as three-time DP World Tour winner, Rasmus Hojgaard, and 2020 DP World Tour Rookie of the year, Sami Valimaki and Min Woo Lee.
The match, normally played biennially but cancelled in 2020 due to the covid pandemic, is the only contest in men’s golf that features a European team besides the Ryder Cup, to which its format is almost identical.
The contest is played in conjunction with the Patsy Hankins Trophy, the identical match for women inaugurated in 2016.
The competition for spots on this year’s teams will be fierce as Europe looks to win back both trophies from the Asia-Pacific teams at La Manga from 3 to 5 August.
The teams will likely be made up of many of the world’s top-25 ranked amateur men and women, setting up an exciting contest between the two continents.
European Ryder cup captain, Luke Donald, recently sent a letter to some of Europe’s top ranked players hoping to make the team.
“What you all achieve as individuals will define your careers; but your greatest moments and memories will come from playing for more than just yourself” said Donald.
“Playing for your teammates, your Captain, caddies, partners, family, friends and your respective countries uniting as one continent is an incredible privilege and competing under those conditions creates moments and memories that no one can ever take away from you as a group.”
“I cannot stress that enough and hope you all push yourselves to new heights of performance to qualify for and represent Team Europe. It is a decision you will never regret.”
The European teams, selected based on World Amateur Golf Ranking and performance in elite international events, are set to be announced in June.