The Ryder Cup is a golf trophy contested biennially in an event officially called the Ryder Cup Matches by teams from Europe and the United States. The Ryder Cup was first competed for in 1927, with the US competing against Great Britain. After nearly 40 years of US dominance (Britain won only once between 1935 and 1973) it was extended to Britain and Ireland in 1973 and then Europe in 1979, which made the Cup considerably more competitive. Currently, the Ryder Cup Matches are jointly administered by the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour.
The Ryder Cup Matches involve various matchplay matches between players selected from two teams of 12. In 2002, those games consisted of 8 foursomes matches, 8 fourball matches and 12 singles matches. The winner of each match scores a point for their team, with ˝ a point each for any match that is tied after 18 holes.
A foursomes match is a competition between two teams of two golfers. The golfers on the same team take alternate shots throughout the match, with the same ball. Each hole is won by the team that completes the hole in the fewest shots. A fourball match is a competition between two teams of two golfers. All four golfers play their own ball throughout the round. Each hole is won by the team whose individual golfer had the lowest score. A singles match is a standard matchplay competition between two golfers.
The matches take place over three days, Friday through Sunday. On the Friday, there are four fourball matches and four foursomes matches in the afternoon. On the Saturday, the same schedule repeats. On the Sunday, there are twelve singles matches. Not all players play on Friday and Saturday; the captain can select any eight players for each of the four rounds of play over these two days.
Founding of the Cup
There is some debate over who suggested the idea for the Ryder Cup. James Harnett, a journalist with Golf Illustrated magazine appears to have proposed a similar idea to the USPGA on December 15, 1920 and, having failed to attract support, the idea was refloated by a Sylvanus Germain, president of a club in Toledo, the next year. This resulted in an unofficial match in 1921, won 9–3 by the British, and another in 1926, won 13˝–1˝ by Britain. A spectator at the second game, Samuel Ryder, saw the potential of the competition and persuaded the two captains to reform their teams in 1927 for the first official Cup. Ryder, who donated a gold cup and had agreed to pay Ł5 to each of the winning team, attached his name to the new competition.
Equivalent events are:
- Solheim Cup — The women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup, featuring the same U.S. vs. Europe format.
- Presidents Cup — Men's event, held in odd-numbered years, with the same format as the Ryder Cup, except that the competing sides are a U.S. side and an International side consisting entirely of players whose citizenship makes them ineligible for the Ryder Cup.
- Walker Cup — Event for amateur men. Unlike the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup has never adopted a U.S.-Europe format. The U.S. side is opposed by a team drawn from Great Britain and Ireland.
- Curtis Cup — Women's amateur event directly analogous to the Walker Cup. Like the Walker Cup, the competition format is U.S. vs. Great Britain and Ireland.
- UBS Cup — Men's event similar to the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. The competing sides are USA and Rest of the World. Six golfers on each side must be 50 or over, and the remaining six must be in their forties.
- The Seve Trophy — A European professional men's event, founded by Seve Ballesteros, that pits a side from Great Britain and Ireland against one from continental Europe.
- Tommy Bahama Challenge — An annual professional men's event, operated by the U.S. PGA Tour, that pits USA and International (rest of the world) professionals no older than 30.
- Palmer Cup: An annual match between U.S. and European college/university golfers.
Controversial Ryder Cups
The competitions from 1939 to 1945 were cancelled due to World War II.
The 1969 Cup held at Royal Birkdale was perhaps one of the best and most competitive contests (18 of the 32 matches went to the last green). In one of golf's most memorable moments of sportsmanship, Jack Nicklaus, playing in his first Ryder Cup Matches, conceded a two-footer to Tony Jacklin after making a four-footer for par on the last green. The 'gimme' was very generous; Jacklin was far from assured of making it. Nicklaus said: 'I don't think you would have missed that putt, but in these circumstances, I would never give you the opportunity.' The result was the first tie in the Matches' history (the US retained the Cup) but some of Nicklaus' team mates and captain Sam Snead were less than pleased.
After accusing each other of cheating at The Belfry in 1989, the feud between Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger escalated at Kiawah Island. Azinger: 'I can tell you we're not trying to cheat.' Ballesteros: 'Oh no. Breaking the rules and cheating are two different things.' The constant goading intensified their desire to win and with their partners (Jose Maria Olazabal and Chip Beck) they produced what is regarded as the best pairs match in history, the spaniards winning 2&1.
The 1999 Ryder Cup held at Brookline in the USA caused great controversy. Coming just after the gulf war the team USA chose to wear combat fatigue style dress and many attribute the overall atmosphere at Brokline to that of a war. (Indeed Corey Pavin verbalised this sentiment during the tournament). Unfortunately the controversy has overshadowed a remarkable comeback by the Americans. Down 10-6 after the first two days of play, they won 8, drew 1 and lost only 3 matches during the final singles play to take the title 14.5-13.5.
The competition turned on the 17th hole of a match between American Justin Leonard and Spaniard José María Olazábal. Leonard holed an amazing 45-foot putt to go one ahead of Olazábal. This would assure him of at least a half point and a U.S. victory (the Americans needed 14.5 points to gain the cup due to the Europeans' 1997 victory at Valderrama). A wild celebration ensued, with other players and some spectators spilling out onto the green. The controversy however was that Olazábal was yet to putt. The scenes of wild celebration was premptive and although it was probably the tension and excitement of the match the result was a certain distraction for Olazábal. In the event Olazábal waited patiently for the celebration to die down and then missed his putt, to a roar from the partisan crowd, the USA had won.
According to the "Best of the Rest" section of "ESPN's Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame" program, NBC footage and press photos prove that no official rules (Ryder Cup or PGA) were broken when the Americans celebrated after Leonard's putt (i.e. no one walked in or crossed Olazábal's putting line). However the game of golf is upheld by many to be 'the genteleman's game' and while this attribute may be a hundred years out of date there remain a number of unwritten rules and codes of conduct which the European players believed were being ignored.
There was still considerable bad blood after the match with some of the European players complaining about the behavior American galleries throughout the match. Sam Torrance branded it 'disgusting'. European captain Mark James referred to it as a 'bear pit' in a book recounting the event. There was also reports that his wife was spat at by a spectator.
Following the 1999 Ryder Cup a number of the USA team apologised for their behaviour and there were numerous attempts from both teams to calm the increasing nationalism of the event down. This appears to have been largely successful with subsequent Cups being played in the 'spirit of the game'.
The 2001 match was delayed for a year following the September 11 attacks. At the same time, it was decided to hold the Ryder Cup in even-numbered years instead of the past schedule of odd-numbered years. The most recent Ryder Cup 2004 was won by Europe with Scotsman Colin Montgomerie sinking the winning putt.
|2020||Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin|
|2018||TBD (Continental Europe)|
|2016||Hazeltine National GC, Chaska, Minnesota|
|2012||Medinah CC, Medinah, Illinois|
|2010||Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales|
|2008||Valhalla GC, Louisville, Kentucky|
|2006||The K Club, Straffan, Ireland|
|2004||Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan||Europe||18˝||United States||9˝|
|2002||The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England||Europe||15˝||United States||12˝|
|1999||The Country Club, North Adams, Massachusetts||United States||14˝||Europe||13˝|
|1997||Valderrama GC, Sotogrande, Spain||Europe||14˝||United States||13˝|
|1995||Oak Hill CC, Rochester, New York||Europe||14˝||United States||13˝|
|1993||The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England||United States||15||Europe||13|
|1991||Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean Course), Johns Island, South Carolina||United States||14˝||Europe||13˝|
|1989||The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England||Tied||14|
|1987||Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio||Europe||15||United States||13|
|1985||The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England||Europe||16˝||United States||11˝|
|1983||PGA National GC, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida||United States||14˝||Europe||13˝|
|1981||Walton Health GC, Surrey, England||United States||18˝||Europe||9˝|
|1979||The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia||United States||17||Europe||11|
|1977||Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England||United States||12˝||Great Britain & Ireland||7˝|
|1975||Laurel Valley GC, Ligonier, Pennsylvania||United States||21||Great Britain & Ireland||11|
|1973||Muirfield Links, Scotland||United States||19||Great Britain & Ireland||13|
|1971||Old Warson CC, St. Louis, Missouri||United States||18˝||Great Britain||13˝|
|1969||Royal Birkdale GC, Southport, England||Tied||16|
|1967||Champions GC, Houston, Texas||United States||23˝||Great Britain||8˝|
|1965||Royal Birkdale GC, Southport, England||United States||19˝||Great Britain||12˝|
|1963||East Lake GC, Atlanta, Georgia||United States||23||Great Britain||9|
|1961||Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England||United States||14˝||Great Britain||9˝|
|1959||Eldorado CC, Indian Wells, California||United States||8˝||Great Britain||3˝|
|1957||Lindrick GC, Rotherham, England||Great Britain||7˝||United States||4˝|
|1955||Thunderbird CC, Rancho Mirage, California||United States||8||Great Britain||4|
|1953||Wentworth Club, Surrey, England||United States||6˝||Great Britain||5˝|
|1951||Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina||United States||9˝||Great Britain||2˝|
|1949||Ganton GC, Scarborough, England||United States||7||Great Britain||5|
|1947||Portland GC, Portland, Oregon||United States||11||Great Britain||1|
|1937||Southport & Ainsdale GC, England||United States||8||Great Britain||4|
|1935||Ridgewood CC, Paramus, New Jersey||United States||9||Great Britain||3|
|1933||Southport & Ainsdale GC, England||Great Britain||6˝||United States||5˝|
|1931||Scioto CC, Columbus, Ohio||United States||9||Great Britain||3|
|1929||Moortown GC, Leeds, England||Great Britain||7||United States||5|
|1927||Worcester CC, Worcester, Massachusetts||United States||9˝||Great Britain||2˝|
NB: The 1969 and 1989 tournaments were drawn, so the Cup remained with the previous victors.
- ^ Into the Bear Pit: The Hard-hitting Inside Story of the Brookline Ryder Cup, ISBN 1852278544
- ^ CNN report 'A Mob demonstration'