Like many good ideas, The Ryder Cup Matches emanated from a casual conversation in a clubhouse bar after a successful day’s golf.
The year was 1926, the clubhouse was Wentworth and the day’s golf was an unofficial match between the professionals of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States. After the match, Samuel Ryder, a prosperous seed merchant from St Albans and avid follower of the game, casually remarked: “We must do this again.” This was seized upon by, among others, George Duncan, a leading professional of the day, and when Ryder was prevailed upon to present a trophy, so the Ryder Cup was born.
The first encounter took place in 1927 and now, over 80 years later, the match stands at the pinnacle of the game as an example of keenly contested rivalry, tempered by sportsmanship and friendliness. Over the years, many changes have taken place to the original format of four foursomes and eight singles, each over 36 holes, but after an initial sharing of victories over the first four matches, it was the Americans who asserted dominance.
From 1935 to 1955 (no matches were staged during the war), the Americans were untroubled. In 1957, Dai Rees and his men turned the tables at Lindrick but thereafter it was much the same mixture as before with the more the match was expanded, the greater the American winning margin. Following the 22nd match in 1977, it was decided to incorporate players from Continental Europe and this heralded a shift in the balance of power.
After a touch and go encounter in 1983, the Europeans recorded a famous victory in 1985 at The Belfry, then won for the first time on American soil in 1987 and retained the trophy after a tie in 1989. Fortunes swung to the Americans in 1991 and 1993 but back to the Europeans in 1995 and 1997. The Americans won at home in 1999 by the narrowest of margins but Europe regained the trophy at The Belfry in 2002.
With Bernhard Langer guiding Europe to another victory at Oakland Hills in 2004 (a fourth win in five) which became five in six when the Americans were again swept aside at Ireland’s K Club and Ian Woosnam became another triumphant European captain. In 2008, however, the tide turned and the USA, under the proud captaincy of Paul Azinger, claimed back the trophy in a very exciting three days at Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky.
The 2010 Matches took place at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales. Whilst it might have been the country’s first time at hosting the event, the Matches did not disappoint in drama and stature. European Captain, Colin Montgomerie, and his team fought the United States’ Corey Pavin and team through sever weather conditions that brought on a Monday finish that culminated in Graeme McDowell defeating Hunter Mahan 3 & 1 to regain the Cup for Europe.
2012 saw the Matches move back to American soil and Medinah Country Club in Chicgo, Illinois, and played host to perhaps the greatest comeback seen in sporting history. Europe trailed the USA with 6 points to their 10 at the beginning of the final day, maening Europe needed 8.5 points from a potential 12.
In the spirit of the late, great European player, Seve Ballesteros, the European players battled throughout the day until it was left to Germany’s Martin Kaymer who holed a five-foot putt on the 18th hole to defeat Steve Stricker and retain the trophy. Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari were the only other group out and after a missed putt on 18 from Woods and a concession to Molinari, their match was halved giving Europe the half they needed to secure an outright win of the Ryder Cup.
The 40th Ryder Cup matches were held 26–28 September 2014 in Scotland on the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel near Auchterarder in Perthshire. The team captains in 2014 were Paul McGinley for Europe and Tom Watson for the USA.
Europe won the 2014 competition to retain the Ryder Cup, defeating the USA by 16 1⁄2 points to 11 1⁄2, for their third consecutive win.
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