Twelve Good Men and True versus Twelve Good Men and True, or a clash of the continents? Friendly transatlantic rivalry or a battle for sporting hegemony?
The Ryder Cup is golf's greatest match-play contest; it might even be the world's foremost international team event.
History of the Ryder Cup
It began life in the 'roaring twenties' as a modest but competitive affair. The first four Ryder Cups were shared two wins apiece. In those pre-European days it wasn't so much Great Britain and Ireland against the United States as the Old World against the New World. Then came The Depression and, for golfers from the Old World, a depressingly long era of finishing second. In fact, for a period of 50 years, from the early '30's to the early '80's, the Ryder Cup was more often a rout than a contest, American victories being as crushing as they were predictable.
Then, quite suddenly, things changed. It was decided that the Great Britain and Ireland side should be strengthened by including golfers from continental Europe. Of course, it was not merely coincidental that the greatest talent of the time happened to be a young Spaniard, Seve Ballesteros. One golfer alone couldn't turn the tide, but fortunately for Europe Ballesteros was quickly joined on the world stage by Germany's Bernhard Langer, and then by a modern day British Triumvirate of Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam.
Overwhelmed at Walton Heath in 1981, Europe almost beat the United States in 1983 at the PGA National in Florida before gaining a famous victory at The Belfry in 1985.
A first win on American soil followed in 1987. 'Uncle Sam' was never likely to roll over, however, and since then it has been almost impossible to separate the two teams. It has become a truly classic match.
Irish golfers have played a significant role in the history of the Ryder Cup. Only Faldo has played in more matches than 'himself', Christy O'Connor, and when Europe turned the tide in the '80s it was Eammon Darcy who holed the winning putt at Muirfield Village in 1987, and Christy O'Connor Jnr who hit that unforgettable two-iron to the final green in the tied 1989 match at The Belfry. In the 1990s Philip Walton repeated Darcy's achievement at Oak Hill in 1995, and Padraig Harrington almost did as much when defeating Mark O'Meara at Brookline four years later. Thus it is entirely fitting that the Ryder Cup should have come to Ireland in 2006.
In September 2006 The K Club hosted the 36th Ryder Cup. Anyone witnessing the event or who has played the spectacular Arnold Palmer designed layout will know that it was purposely built, if not destined, for an event of this magnitude. The extraordinary success of the 2006 Ryder Cup - providing a truly memorable event for all golfing enthusiaists worldwide - has confirmed the K Club's Palmer Ryder Cup Course. The Palmer Ryder Cup Course as one of the world's top courses and a 'must' for any golfer keen to enjoy a exhilarating golfing experience.
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