Ryder Cup History
Ryder Cup History
According to Ryder Cup legend, the competition was born out of a series of small unofficial competitions. After one such competition in 1926 between US and British golfers at Wentworth, one spectator offered to give £5 to each of the winning team and host a party with champagne and chicken sandwiches.
That man was English entrepreneur and amateur golfer Samuel Ryder. Following its success, Ryder set about establishing an official tournament and had a gold cup specially made for the event and named after himself.
The first official Ryder Cup competition was played in 1927 at Worcester Country Club and has been played biennially since then (with the exception of the war years between 1939 and 1945). Originally the competition was played between teams from the US and Britain and after 40 years of US dominance, the British asked the Irish to play in 1973 and it was later extended to Europe in 1979.
Over the years the Ryder Cup has produced some memorable sporting moments and a few controversial ones to. At Royal Birkdale in 1969, Jack Nicklaus' sporting gesture of conceding a two footer following Tony Jacklin's four-footer for par on the last green, led to the first ever match tie of the tournament, allowing the US to retain the Cup.
After a heated exchange in a game at the Belfry, in which Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger both accused each other of cheating, the two met again at Kiawah Island. The feud between the two led to some of the best golf ever being played in the Ryder Cup.
Perhaps the most controversial moment followed one of the Ryder Cup's greatest ever comebacks during the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline in the States. The US were 10-6 down after the first few days of play and managed to claw themselves back in the game by the 17th hole of a match between American Justin Leonard and Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal. After Leonard put himself ahead with an amazing 45-yard putt, the home spectators and some of the US players spilled out onto the green in celebration. But the celebration was preemptive as Olazabal had yet to put. When he did, he missed, resulting in wild celebration as the US won. Had the crowd put him off unfairly? Had ungentlemanly conduct ensued? That's all in the debate of the game...