The history of the Ryder Cup

The 43rd Ryder Cup begins tomorrow, on Friday 24th September at Whistling Straits, so SWL takes a look at the history of the event.

While the United States are favoured to beat Europe, recent decades have seen the continent take a grip on golf’s biggest international contest.

The seeds of the Ryder Cup were sown when gardening entrepreneur Samuel Ryder had the idea of a golf match between Britain and the United States.

From its inception in 1927 the biennial tournament sprouted into one of sport’s most iconic contests.

For all its prestige however, the first half century of Ryder Cup action was dominated by the United States, who won all but four of the 22 events up to 1977.

Great Britain won just three, with one tie in 1969, notable not just because it was the first tie, but for an act of sportsmanship never witnessed before or since.

The Cup was still all square at the 18th hole of the last match between Jack Nicklaus (USA) and Tony Jacklin (GB), before Nicklaus conceded Jacklin’s crucial three-foot putt to confirm the tie.

But by 1977, America had become such a dominant force in the Ryder Cup that the Professional Golfers’ Association decided to incorporate continental European players into Great Britain & Ireland’s team.

The subsequent 1979 and 1981 Ryder Cups continued to result in convincing American victories before the 1983 European team, now captained by Jacklin, produced their most impressive performance to date at Palm Beach.

On the final hole of the final day, the contest tilted upon the head-to-head between Lanny Wadkins and Maria Canizares.

The American, trailing the Spaniard by a point, hit a 60-yard wedge to within a foot of the hole, securing a 14.5 to 13.5 win for the US.

Nevertheless, there was victory in defeat two years later at the Belfry as the previously unprolific Manuel Piñero had a career defining tournament.

He led the individual points tally and handed the Americans their first defeat since 1957, heralding a new dawn for the tournament.

The inclusion of European players helped fuel a more competitive era for the Cup.

The addition of abovementioned Spanish players, as well as Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros, saw a series of thrilling and close-fought contests as the 20th century drew to a close.

Following the one-year delay of the 2001 competition due to the September 11 attacks, Europe came to dominate from 2002, winning seven of the last nine competitions.

Memories of their record win in 2004 and astonishing comeback in the “Miracle at Medinah” of 2012 will give them the confidence to achieve another famous away victory, while the USA will be hoping to replicate their comprehensive home triumphs in 2008 and 2016.

With an average ranking well over 20 places higher than that of the European team, they will be confident of extending their lead in overall championships having won 26 compared to Great Britain and then Europe, who have collectively claimed 14.

The Ryder Cup takes place between Team USA and Team Europe on 24-26 September and you can check out all of SWL’s coverage here.

Featured image credit: Cutkiller2018 via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

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