HARTFORD, Conn. – The recognition for Ben James of Milford just never seems to end.
On Monday, Ben James was one of six boys named to the 12-member United States Junior Ryder Cup Team that will play an exhibition next week due to the annual competition being canceled because of ongoing travel issues for the European Junior Ryder Cup party. The Ryder Cup match was scheduled to be played Sept. 20-21 at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa, Wisc. Instead, the U.S. team will play in an exhibition Sept. 22 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc., participate in the Ryder Cup opening ceremonies Sept. 23 and then attend the first day of competition the following day.
James and the rest of the team was scheduled to play against Europe in 2020, but that competition was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team consists of six boys and six girls who are U.S. citizens and part of the 2022 high school graduating class or younger.
James, 18, a senior at Hamden Hall County Day who has committed to the University of Virginia, was a first-team Rolex Junior All-American last year and is now ranked second in the Rolex American Junior Golf Association rankings. This year, he has won a record third consecutive New England Amateur and three major national junior tournaments, including the Junior Players Championship over Labor Day weekend at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla., the home of the PGA Tour’s Players Championship. He also has had three runner-up finishes, including the Connecticut Open behind pro Peter Ballo.
This will be James’ second appearance in a major international competition. He won two of three matches as the U.S. defeated the International team in the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia.
The American rosters include Junior PGA Championship winners Caleb Surratt of Indian Trial, N.C., and Anna Davis of Spring Valley, Calif., and five 2020 Rolex Junior All-America team selections. They include Nick Dunlap of Huntsville, Ala., whose three major wins this year include the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship with two-time Connecticut Open winner Jeff Curl as his caddie. Dunlap, who also has five major runner-up finishes this year, is No. 1 in the Rolex AJGA rankings.
Junior Ryder Cup alumni include major champions and PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players such as 2017 Travelers Championship winner Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Akshay Bhatia, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, Yealimi Noh, Nicolas Colsaerts, Brittan Altomare, Suzann Pettersen, Emily Pedersen, Carlota Ciganda of Europe and Lexi Thompson, who won the U.S. Girls Championship at Hartford Golf Club.
Spieth, Thomas, McIlroy, Garcia, Finau and Scheffler will compete in the Ryder Cup on Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits. Thompson, Altomare, Emily Pedersen and Ciganda played in the Solheim Cup two weeks ago.
The idea for the Junior Ryder Cup came in 1995, when a team of Europeans 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 in its own right while played at Alcaidesa Links Golf Course in Cadiz, Spain. The U.S. won 9-7 and has an overall record of 7-4 in the event, which is scheduled to resume in 2023 in Rome, Italy.