History of The Ryder Cup Matches
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.