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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 born in 1926, with the US competing against Great Britain on the East Course, Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, England. After more than 45 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.
Format The Ryder Cup Matches involve various matchplay matches between players selected from two teams of 12. Currently, the matches consist of 8 foursomes matches, 8 fourball matches and 12 singles matches. The winner of each match scores a point for their team, with ½ 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 need 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 13½–1½ by Britain. Present at the second 1926 match, held on the East Course at Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, was St. Albans seed merchant, Sam Ryder. Having watched the play, Mr Ryder thought it would be good idea to make the match official and there and then the Ryder Cup was born.
Among the British, at the 1926 landmark match, were golfing giants Abe Mitchell, George Duncan, Archie Compston, Ted Ray (portrayed in the recent film The Greatest Game Ever Played), and Arthur Havers. From America came Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Jim Barnes and Al Watrous.
This first official match was held in Massachusetts in 1927. Ryder, who donated a gold cup and had agreed to pay £5 to each of the winning team, attached his name to the new competition. It has been held on a two year cycle since, apart from 1939 to 1945 when it was cancelled due to World War II.
The 2001 match was delayed for a year, as it was due to take place very shortly after the September 11 attacks. It was subsequently decided to hold the Ryder Cup in even-numbered years instead of odd-numbered years.