The First Ryder Cup
The 4th of June 1927 AD
Samuel Ryder, who made his fortune as a seed merchant, became a golf fanatic in his 50s, having been told to take up the game for his health. A man of great energy he served as captain of Verulam Golf Club in St Albans the year after joining, and was also that town’s mayor; his fame is assured now, however, as the founder of the Ryder Cup.
At Wentworth in 1926, prior to the Open that year, Samuel Ryder watched an unofficial match between the USA and Great Britain, where the hosts thrashed the Americans 13˝ to 1˝. He wondered why no official match could be arranged; donated a gold cup designed by Mappin and Webb, and when fundraising efforts to pay for the travel expenses of the British team to Worcester Massachusetts fell short he stumped up the cash.
The British team of eight professionals, led by Ted Ray from Jersey who was an Open (at Muirfield) and US Open winner, included Arthur Havers, who had won The Open at Troon in 1923, and George Duncan from Aberdeen , Open champion in 1920. Sadly (from a British standpoint) the Americans triumphed 9˝ to 2˝, their team captained by Walter Hagan who would end up with 11 major titles, and featuring Gene Sarazen not far behind with seven.
For the record Aubrey Boomer and Charles Whitcombe became the first Brits to score a Ryder Cup point, in the foursomes on the Friday; Whitcombe took another half-point in his singles against Sarazen; and George Duncan won the last game on Saturday to reduce if only marginally the rout.
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