Skip to main content

10 things you didn't know about the Ryder Cup

By Tom McGowan and Paul Gittings, CNN
  • The 38th Ryder Cup gets underway at Celtic Manor, Wales on Friday
  • The golfing contest is between the U.S. and Europe
  • Players will compete in various forms of the game over three days

(CNN) -- With the 38th Ryder Cup upon us, the eyes of the world will be focused on the Celtic Manor course. While sports fans will have their gaze fixed firmly on events in Wales, CNN takes a look at 10 facts and figures which may have escaped their notice.

1. The competition itself was the invention of Samuel Ryder, a wealthy English seed merchant. Ryder also commissioned the trophy, which was presented to the English Professional Golfers Association ahead of the first tournament in 1927. Ryder travelled with the team to the U.S., but they were well beaten.

2. The man depicted on the lid of the famous trophy is Abe Mitchell, who taught Ryder how to play golf. Mitchell was due to play in the 1927 contest. However, he was forced to withdraw with appendicitis, although he did go on to play in the next three cups.

3. In the early days of the competition, Europe and the U.S. both enjoyed victories, before America embarked on a remarkable run of success. Between 1935 and 1985, a period of 50 years, Europe only emerged victorious once, in 1957. It was an impressive spell for the Americans, although their run did coincide with World War II, which caused the competition to cease for 10 years.

4. European players such as Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal have become synonymous with this great contest, but until 1979 they were unable to compete. Originally the match was played between Great Britain and the U.S., with the rules being changed to make the competition more equal.

5. In the history of the Ryder Cup, three sets of brothers have teamed up for Europe. Charles, Ernest and Reg Whitcombe were the first, representing the 1935 Great Britain team that was beaten 9-3. In 1963, Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt became the second set of British brothers to taste defeat together, with the U.S. romping to a 23-9 victory. Edoardo and Francesco Molinari will be hoping for better luck, with both of the Italians being included in Colin Montgomerie's 2010 European team.

Video: Golf trick shots at the Ryder Cup

6. In the event of an injury to a player on either team, each captain keeps the name of one team member in a sealed envelope. This man will withdraw from the singles competition if either team is unable to field the full complement of 12 players. Each team will then be awarded half a point.

7. With two continents colliding in the sporting arena, it is hardly surprising interest in the event is huge. Thanks to modern technology, golf enthusiasts in 620 million households will be able to watch their golfing heroes go head-to-head via television and the internet.

8. It is a widely held belief that an army marches on its stomach, and if that is the case, the legions of fans at Celtic Manor will not go hungry. An estimated 20,000 portions of fish and chips, 15,000 quarter-pounder burgers, 7000 organic pies and 132,000 pints of beer will be consumed during the event.

9. Captain's picks were only introduced for the 1979 Ryder Cup, and since then Europe have benefitted. U.S. team picks have won 46 percent of their matches, while European picks have won 52 percent.

10. Fans gathered at Celtic Manor will be hoping a legend is born over the three days of competition, and the venue already has a rich history of births. On January 1, 1940 it became a maternity hospital, with 60,000 babies being delivered there before it eventually closed in 1975.

Part of complete coverage on
Europeans take Ryder lead
Europe leads the U.S. heading into Monday's final day. CNN's Don Riddell reports
USA has work to do at Ryder Cup
After taking an early lead, the USA trails in all 6 Ryder Cup matches. CNN's Don Riddell reports
Westwood at Ryder Cup
CNN's Don Riddell speaks with Lee Westwood, who continued his stellar play for Team Europe at Sunday's Ryder Cup.
Ian Poulter talks Ryder Cup
Don Riddell speaks with Europe's Ian Poulter after day two of the Ryder Cup.
Weather wreaks havoc at Ryder Cup
Team USA takes the early lead after Friday's wet Ryder Cup action. CNN's Don Riddell reports.
Is the wet Ryder Cup America's fault?
CNN's Don Riddell questions whether the Ryder Cup needed to be played so late in the year, when rain is more likely.
The Ryder Cup bluffer's guide
Ten facts you need to know about one of the most hotly contested competitions in world golf.
Golf widows: Ryder Cup wives through history
While the men competing in this weekend's Ryder Cup may grab the attention of the world's media, we look at the role played by their wives throughout history.