1979 Ryder Cup

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23rd Ryder Cup Matches
Dates   September 14–16, 1979
Venue   The Greenbrier,
The Greenbrier Course
Location   White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Captains   Billy Casper (USA)
John Jacobs (Europe)
United States   17    11   Europe
United States wins the Ryder Cup



The Greenbrier is located in United States
The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier
Location in the United States

The 23rd Ryder Cup Matches were held September 14–16, 1979 at the Greenbrier Course of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

It was the beginning of a new era for the Ryder Cup. For the first time, players from continental Europe took part in the Ryder Cup[1][2] (specifically, Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido of Spain). The new Team Europe replaced Great Britain and Ireland as the official opposition to the United States. It was hoped that the change would help raise the profile of the competition and bring about the end of near total domination by the United States that had existed since the end of the Second World War. However the change made no real impact at the first attempt as the United States won the competition easily by a score of 17 to 11 points and led after every session.[3] Ballesteros and Garrido played together in all four team sessions and were 1–3; both lost their singles matches on Sunday. All four of Ballesteros' losses came against Larry Nelson.[4][5]

Jack Nicklaus, age 39, failed to make the team for the first time since becoming eligible in 1969. Tom Watson left the day before the competition for the birth of his first child and was replaced on the team by first alternate Mark Hayes.[6]


The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format was similar to the formats used from 1963 through 1975, but with fewer singles matches:

  • Day 1 — 4 four-ball (better ball) matches in a morning session and 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in an afternoon session
  • Day 2 — 4 foursome matches in a morning session and 4 four-ball matches in an afternoon session
  • Day 3 — 12 singles matches, 6 each in morning and afternoon sessions

With a total of 28 points, 14½ points were required to win the Cup. All matches were played to a maximum of 18 holes.


Friday's matches[edit]

September 14, 1979

Morning four-ball[edit]

Europe Results United States
Garrido/Ballesteros United States 2 & 1 Wadkins/Nelson
Brown/James United States 3 & 2 Trevino/Zoeller
Oosterhuis/Faldo United States 2 & 1 Bean/Elder
Gallacher/Barnes Europe 2 & 1 Irwin/Mahaffey
1 Session 3
1 Overall 3

Afternoon foursomes[edit]

Europe Results United States
Brown/Smyth United States 7 & 6 Irwin/Kite
Ballesteros/Garrido Europe 3 & 2 Zoeller/Green
Lyle/Jacklin halved Trevino/Morgan
Gallacher/Barnes United States 4 & 3 Wadkins/Nelson

Saturday's matches[edit]

September 15, 1979

Morning foursomes[edit]

Europe Results United States
Jacklin/Lyle Europe 5 & 4 Elder/Mahaffey
Faldo/Oosterhuis Europe 6 & 5 Bean/Kite
Gallacher/Barnes Europe 2 & 1 Zoeller/Hayes
Ballesteros/Garrido United States 3 & 2 Wadkins/Nelson
3 Session 1

Afternoon four-ball[edit]

Europe Results United States
Ballesteros/Garrido United States 5 & 4 Wadkins/Nelson
Jacklin/Lyle United States 1 up Irwin/Kite
Gallacher/Barnes Europe 3 & 2 Trevino/Zoeller
Faldo/Oosterhuis Europe 1 up Elder/Hayes
2 Session 2

Sunday's matches[edit]

September 16, 1979

Morning singles[edit]

Europe Results United States
Bernard Gallacher Europe 3 & 2 Lanny Wadkins
Seve Ballesteros United States 3 & 2 Larry Nelson
Tony Jacklin United States 1 up Tom Kite
Antonio Garrido United States 1 up Mark Hayes
Michael King United States 4 & 3 Andy Bean
Brian Barnes United States 1 up John Mahaffey
1 Session 5
Overall 13½

Afternoon singles[edit]

Europe Results United States
Nick Faldo Europe 3 & 2 Lee Elder
Des Smyth United States 5 & 3 Hale Irwin
Peter Oosterhuis United States 2 up Hubert Green
Ken Brown Europe 1 up Fuzzy Zoeller
Sandy Lyle United States 2 & 1 Lee Trevino
Mark James halved[7] Gil Morgan
11 Overall 17

Controversy and fallout[edit]

On their return to the United Kingdom, Mark James and Ken Brown received the highest fines in professional golf up to this point. James received a £1500 fine for "unprofessional conduct" and Brown was fined £1000 and banned from international duty for 12 months.[2]



  1. ^ "Ryder Cup goes Continental". The Age (Melbourne, Australia). May 31, 1978. p. 26. 
  2. ^ "British receive help in Ryder Cup change". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. May 30, 1978. p. 19. 
  3. ^ Jenkins, Dan (September 24, 1979). "The U.S. rookies were rough Ryders". Sports Illustrated: 26. 
  4. ^ "Not-so-good loser". Miami News. September 17, 1979. p. 1C. 
  5. ^ "Nelson-led Yanks retain Ryder Cup". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 17, 1979. p. 19. 
  6. ^ a b "U.S. minus Watson as Ryder Cup starts". St. Petersburg Times. wire services. September 14, 1979. p. 6C. 
  7. ^ Mark James withdrew because of injury. Gil Morgan was also injured, so this match was not actually played.[1]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°47′13″N 80°18′50″W / 37.787°N 80.314°W / 37.787; -80.314