Ryder Cup 2010 - Introduction
The Ryder Cup Matches is like no other event in golf. It was established in 1927 as a competition between two teams of golfers representing the best professionals in the United States of America and Great Britain. Over the decades, it has evolved into one of the most popular and widely-covered events in the sporting calendar, with the US now competing against a team representing Europe for the trophy named after the event's founding father, Samuel Ryder.
The Ryder Cup Matches tournament is staged every two years, with each side taking turns to host the event on home soil.
The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales is the 25th venue to stage The Ryder Cup, the first time the competition has visited Wales. The event has broken new ground in golf many times before. In fact, this is a characteristic feature of The Ryder Cup. Most of golf's greatest events started out as localised competitions which would become genuinely international events many years after their foundation. The Ryder Cup, however, was established with grand ambition a trans-Atlantic contest decades before passage across that great ocean was commonplace.
The origin of The Ryder Cup Matches is the subject of much debate among golf historians. Plans to establish a regular competition between the United States and Great Britain had been carefully drawn up on a number of occasions, but it took one man to make it happen.
Samuel Ryder was more than just an enthusiastic member of the gallery at an exhibition match at Wentworth between the US and Britain in 1926. The event had been arranged during free time for players between qualifying rounds of The Open Championship and the tournament itself. Ryder was a wealthy businessman, famous for having made his fortune from selling Penny Packets of seeds. He had taken to golf in his 50s and had a vested interest in the contest, as he had employed one of the British representatives, Abe Mitchell, to be his personal teaching pro.
Following the match, Ryder famously told British player, George Duncan, that he would support a regular competition between the two nations by rewarding the winning players with Â£5 each and hosting a party with champagne and chicken sandwiches. He then commissioned Mappin & Webb to create a solid gold trophy for Â£250. But Ryder's patronage did not end there. He helped to finance the British team's journey to the US for the inaugural Ryder Cup Matches in 1927 at the Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. The match was won convincingly by the Unites States team captained by Walter Hagen by 91/2 points to 21/2. Ted Ray captained the Great Britain team after original captain Abe Mitchell was sidelined with appendicitis.
In becoming one of the very few events that genuinely transcends its sport, the Ryder Cup has had to overcome many obstacles and challenges along the way. Exhibition matches featuring Ryder Cup players were held during the World War II, although there was a 10-year gap between Ryder Cup victories for the United States in 1937 at Southport & Ainsdale and Portland Golf Club in 1947.
Great Britain joined forces with Ireland in 1973 at the Muirfield Links in Scotland and the process of golfing expansion continued with the United States facing a European team for the first time in 1979 at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, in an attempt to revive an increasingly one-sided contest. Of Jack Nicklaus' many achievements in golf, his determination in pressing for the creation of a European team is one of the least recognised.
As it turned out, the United States won their 13th Ryder Cup in a row at The Greenbrier and would win a further two before the tide turned in 1985 at The Belfry. Europe's captain Tony Jacklin wrenched The Ryder Cup from American hands for the first time in 28 years and heralded an age where it has become a compelling contest. Since 1985, Europe has won competition seven times (retaining The Ryder Cup in 1989 after a tie), while the USA has won four times. The 2001 Ryder Cup at The Belfry was postponed until 2002 following the terrorist attacks on the US of 9/11.