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1979 Ryder Cup


Seve Ballesteros 1979 Wentworth

Seve Ballesteros was one of the first two golfers from Continental Europe to debut in the Ryder Cup, but he went 1-4-0 at the 1979 matches.

Evening Standard / Getty Images
Score: USA 17, Europe 11
Site: The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Captains: Europe - John Jacobs; USA - U.S.: Billy Casper
The 1979 Ryder Cup ushered in a new era in Ryder Cup history, an era during which the matches became much more popular with fans and much more hotly contested between players. Because starting with 1979, Team Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) was a thing of the past; and Team Europe came into being.

Prior to 1979, Team USA's Ryder Cup opposition was a team comprised of golfers from Great Britain and Ireland. But those matches had rarely been competitive since the 1930s - the American side just had too much firepower. In fact, from 1935 through 1977, Team GB&I won the Ryder Cup only once. Player interest in the matches was waning, and fan interest was little.

So the decision was made to open the GB&I team to golfers from across the continent of Europe. And while the 1979 Ryder Cup - another easy win for Team USA - didn't show it, that change would soon revolutionize the Ryder Cup.

The United States led by three points after Day 1, and by one point after Day 2, but dominated the Day 3 singles sessions, winning 8.5 of a possible 12 points.

Larry Nelson was the star for Team USA, going 5-0-0 - the first time any Ryder Cup golfer won five points when five points was the maximum available. Nelson partnered Lanny Wadkins in four of those wins, but Wadkins (4-1-0) lost his singles.

And in three of their matches, Nelson/Wadkins defeated the partnership of Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido. The Spaniards have the distinction of being the first golfers from Continental Europe to play in a Ryder Cup, but both finished with 1-4-0 records.

Another first at the 1979 Ryder: This was the first one at which captain's picks were used. Previously, teams were selected entirely by a points list, entirely by a selection committee, or by some combination of the two methods and sometimes by other criteria, as well (for example, many years the PGA Championship winner automatically claimed a Ryder Cup berth). But Team Europe decided to give its captain sole discretion to add two players to the roster, and captain John Jacobs made Peter Oosterhuis and Des Smyth the first-ever captain's picks.

Team Rosters:

• Europe - Seve Ballesteros, Brian Barnes, Ken Brown, Nick Faldo, Bernard Gallacher, Antonio Garrido, Tony Jacklin, Mark James, Michael King, Sandy Lyle, Peter Oosterhuis, Des Smyth
• USA - Andy Bean, Lee Elder, Hubert Green, Mark Hayes, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, John Mahaffey, Gil Morgan, Larry Nelson, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins, Fuzzy Zoeller

Day 1 Results:

• Lanny Wadkins/Larry Nelson, U.S., def. Antonio Garrido/Seve Ballesteros, Europe, 2 and 1
• Lee Trevino/Fuzzy Zoeller, U.S., def. Ken Brown/Mark James, Europe, 3 and 2
• Andy Bean/Lee Elder, U.S., def. Peter Oosterhuis/Nick Faldo, Europe, 2 and 1
• Bernhard Gallacher/Ben Barnes, Europe, def. Hale Irwin/John Mahaffey, U.S., 2 and 1
• Hale Irwin/Tom Kite, U.S., def. Ken Brown/Des Smyth, Europe, 7 and 6
• Seve Ballesteros/Antonio Garrido, Europe, def. Fuzzy Zoeller/Hubert Green, U.S., 3 and 2
• Sandy Lyle/Tony Jacklin, Europe, halved with Lee Trevino/Gil Morgan, U.S.
• Lanny Wadkins/Larry Nelson, U.S., def. Bernard Gallacher/Brian Barnes, Europe, 4 and 3

Day 2 Results:

• Tony Jacklin/Sandy Lyle, Europe, def. Lee Elder/John Mahaffey, U.S., 5 and 4
• Nick Faldo/Peter Oosterhuis, Europe, def. Andy Bean/Tom Kite, U.S., 6 and 5
• Bernard Gallacher/Brian Barnes, Europe, def. Fuzzy Zoeller/Mark Hayes, U.S., 2 and 1
• Lanny Wadkins/Larry Nelson, U.S., def. Seve Ballesteros/Antonio Garrido, Europe, 3 and 2
• Lanny Wadkins/Larry Nelson, U.S., def. Seve Ballesteros/Antonio Garrido, Europe, 5 and 4
• Hale Irwin/Tom Kite, U.S., def. Tony Jacklin/Sandy Lyle, Europe, 1-up
• Bernard Gallacher/Brian Barnes, Europe, def. Lee Trevino/Fuzzy Zoeller, U.S., 3 and 2
• Nick Faldo/Peter Oosterhuis, Europe, def. Lee Elder/Mark Hayes, U.S., 1-up

Day 3 Results:

• Bernard Gallacher, Europe, def. Lanny Wadkins, U.S., 3 and 2
• Larry Nelson, U.S., def. Seve Ballesteros, Europe, 3 and 2
• Tom Kite, U.S., def. Tony Jacklin, Europe, 1-up
• Mark Hayes, U.S., def. Antonio Garrido, Europe, 1-up
• Andy Bean, U.S., def. Mark King, Europe, 4 and 3
• John Mahaffey, U.S., def. Brian Barnes, Europe, 1-up
• Nick Faldo, Europe, def. Lee Elder, U.S., 3 and 2
• Hale Irwin, U.S., def. Des Smyth, Europe, 5 and 3
• Hubert Green, U.S., def. Peter Oosterhuis, Europe, 2-up
• Ken Brown, Europe, def. Fuzzy Zoeller, U.S., 1-up
• Lee Trevino, U.S., def. Sandy Lyle, Europe, 2 and 1
• Mark James, Europe, halved with Gil Morgan, U.S.

Player Records (wins-losses-halves)

Seve Ballesteros, 1-4-0
Brian Barnes, 3-2-0
Ken Brown, 1-2-0
Nick Faldo, 3-1-0
Bernard Gallacher, 4-1-0
Antonio Garrido, 1-4-0
Tony Jacklin, 1-2-1
Mark James, 0-1-1
Michael King, 0-1-0
Sandy Lyle, 1-2-1
Peter Oosterhuis, 2-2-0
Des Smyth, 0-2-0

Andy Bean, 2-1-0
Lee Elder, 1-3-0
Hubert Green, 1-1-0
Mark Hayes, 1-2-0
Hale Irwin, 3-1-0
Tom Kite, 3-1-0
John Mahaffey, 1-2-0
Gil Morgan , 0-0-2
Larry Nelson, 5-0-0
Lee Trevino, 2-1-1
Lanny Wadkins, 4-1-0
Fuzzy Zoeller, 1-4-0

1977 Ryder Cup | 1981 Ryder Cup
Ryder Cup Results

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