For the first time since 1999, the opening matches of a Ryder Cup will feature the alternate-shot format. United States captain Paul Azinger, hoping to give his team an early edge at Valhalla, announced the change Jan. 30 at the PGA TOUR's FBR Open in Phoenix. A fast start is much-needed for a U.S. squad that has lost the last three, and five of the last six, Ryder Cups
The Ryder Cup, one of the last great sporting events founded on prestige rather than prize money, spans 34 competitions over 77 years. The origin of the idea to stage international matches between the best American professionals and those of Great Britain is a subject of debate among golf historians. Past PGA President George Sargent (1921-26) of the Southeastern PGA Section credited Sylvanus P. Jermain, president of Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, for first presenting the concept in 1921.
However, Bob Harlow, founder of Golf World and one-time manager of Walter Hagen, reported in 1951 that the Matches were first proposed in 1920 by James Harnett, a circulation representative for Golf Illustrated. Harnett had attempted to attract potential readers by raising funds to pay expenses for a professional match between the US and Great Britain. Harnett didn't get the support he needed until The PGA of America voted at its Annual Meeting on December 15, 1920, to advance Harnett some funds. The rivalry Harnett so eagerly attempted to develop eventually became The Ryder Cup.