Milford’s Ben James experiences Ryder Cup as member of U.S. Junior team

Milford's Ben James putts on the practice green at Whistling Straits last week. James qualified for the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team.

Milford's Ben James putts on the practice green at Whistling Straits last week. James qualified for the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team.

Don James / Contributed photo

Ben James may not have gotten a chance to participate in the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup matches due to unforeseen circumstances, but the Milford resident still had the chance to experience what a Ryder Cup atmosphere is like.

The members of that U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team were invited by the PGA of America to be a part of the Ryder Cup experience.

“The atmosphere was crazy. At the first tee, there were about 300 people cheering you on and it was the best feeling you can ever have,” James said. “The adrenaline you have is like no other.”

James, a senior at Hamden Hall Country Day, was one of 12 juniors — six boys and six girls — from across the country to qualify for the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup. The matches, originally scheduled for 2020, were to be held this week, but were canceled in late July due to the European team’s travel issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The matches were scheduled to be played at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Instead, the 12 juniors were able to play on Wednesday at Whistling Straits, the same course the Ryder Cup was held on this weekend.

“Playing Whistling Straits was awesome,” James said. “We played it in 30 mile-per-hour winds, so it was very challenging. But it was a beautiful golf course.”

James helped the U.S. win the U.S. Junior Presidents Cup held in Australia in December of 2019.

James, 18, had a great summer campaign. He won the Northern Junior and New England Junior three straight years, both events held this past August. James placed second in this year’s Connecticut Open after taking third in 2019.

His AJGA results catapulted him to the No. 2 spot in the national junior rankings behind Nick Dunlap, the U.S. Junior champion. James came from behind to win the Junior Players Championship, held at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, over Labor Day weekend. Dunlap placed second.

James, who is committed to play at the University of Virginia, also won the Scott Robertson Memorial and Team TaylorMade Invitational in the spring.

joseph.morelli@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli