The captains were joined by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, Minister for Sport Shona Robison, European Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills and PGA of America President Ted Bishop, as well as celebrity ambassadors including actor James Nesbitt, JLS star Marvin Humes and ex-footballers Alan Hansen and Ruud Gullit, on board the uniquely branded locomotive.
After departing from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, guests were transported through the Scottish countryside in first class Pullman carriages before arriving at The Gleneagles Hotel, where the contest for next year’s Ryder Cup will take place.
European captain Paul McGinley commented: “The Ryder Cup is an iconic event in the world’s sporting calendar and what better way to kick it off than to arrive into Gleneagles Station on an iconic steam train built in 1927, the year of the first Ryder Cup itself. There is a tremendous excitement already around the Ryder Cup with a year to go – you can only imagine what it will be like when we get to next September.”
US captain Tom Watson said: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to be captain in Scotland, a place that has been very special to me during my career. It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 20 years ago that I enjoyed one of the most thrilling experiences in my career in being captain in 1993. Now the clock is ticking down quickly for us in preparing for golf's grandest spectacle at Gleneagles. We anticipate a tremendous match and September 2014 can’t get here soon enough.”
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to be captain in Scotland," said Watson
Before taking to the course itself, both captains joined First Minister Alex Salmond as a commemorative flagstone was unveiled marking improvement works at Gleneagles station and investment in improving the transport infrastructure of the region.
The commemorative journey and regeneration at the station reflects the organisers’ determination to encourage ticket holders to travel by rail to the event next year.
The captains were then joined on the PGA Centenary Course by 16 lucky junior golfers representing the uniquely successful ClubGolf programme. The youngsters - a boy and a girl from each of Scotland’s eight regions - experienced a once in a lifetime chance to play with the captains as part of a special event marking the legacy of the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Celebrations continued on into the evening, as 1,150 people joined the captains at Perth Concert Hall for ‘An Audience with the Ryder Cup Captains’.
Focused around an up-close-and-personal Q&A session hosted by Dougie Donnelly, the evening also offered fans, via Twitter, the chance to quiz the captains on a wide range of topics ahead of next year’s event. The audience also enjoyed entertainment from comedian Fred MacAulay and Scottish band Hue and Cry.
The 2014 Ryder Cup takes place at the Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland from September 26-28, 2014.