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 round.
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 1999 Ryder Cup featured a remarkable comeback by the Americans. Down 10-6 after the first two days of play, they went 8-3-1 in singles play to take the title. The competition turned on the 17th hole of a match between American Justin Leonard and Spaniard José María Olazábal. Leonard holed a 45-foot putt to go dormie-1, assuring 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 ensured, with players and spectators spilling out onto the green, and across the line of the putt that Olazábal had to halve the hole. There was considerable bad blood after the match and some of the European players complained about the American galleries.
The competition from 1939 to 1945 were cancelled due to World War II. 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 was won by Europe with Scotsman Colin Montgomerie sinking the winning putt.