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Welsh Ryder cup players

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Phil Carradice Phil Carradice | 14:40 UK time, Friday, 28 May 2010

As many people know, this autumn the Ryder Cup - the bi-annual golf competition between Europe and the USA - comes to Wales for the first time when the matches, in what is now the third most watched sporting event in the world, are due to take place at The Celtic Manor in Newport.

The competition owes its origin to a professional golf match held between British and American golfers in 1921 but it took St Albans seed merchant Samuel Ryder to come up with the idea of a cup and a regular series of competitions.


After something of a false start in 1926 (the USPGA did not sanction the matches which, incidentally, Great Britain won), competition for Samuel Ryder's cup began in earnest in 1927. Since then the games have been played on a two-year cycle, in America and Europe respectively, Europe having replaced Great Britain in the competition in 1979.

Ask any Welsh sports fan for the names of the Welshmen who have played in the Ryder Cup and they will undoubtedly offer Ian Woosnam and Dai Rees - and rightly so. They are probably the two most famous Welsh golfers of all time. But four other Welsh golfers have also played in the competition.

The first Welsh Ryder Cup golfer - and probably the least known of them all - was Bert Hodson. Born in 1905, he began his professional career as a caddie before becoming assistant to Griff Williams at Newport Golf Club. Bert was Welsh Professional Champion on two occasions and while working as club pro at Chigwell Golf Club was chosen to play in the 1931 Ryder Cup.

It was a fairy tale story but, unfortunately, was one that did not have a happy ending. Bert played in only one game and lost to the in-form American Densmore Shute. Dave Thomas, who was involved in a 36 hole play-off for the Open Championship in 1958, was chosen for the Ryder Cup side a year later.

With Dai Rees also in the team it meant that Wales, for the first time, had two representatives. Thomas went on to play in a further three Cups. Brian Huggett played in no fewer than six Ryder Cup teams, captaining the side in 1977, the last time that Great Britain contested the trophy alone. He was instrumental in bringing European players into the competition, thus allowing people like Seve Ballesteros to both play and, later, captain the side.

Dai Rees' first Ryder Cup appearance came in 1937 and he went on to make nine appearances in the competition, five of them as captain. Had it not been for the Second World War, he would undoubtedly have made double figures. Ian Woosnam, Wales' only Major winner, appeared in eight consecutive Cups before captaining the successful 2006 side.

Phillip Price made only one Ryder Cup appearance, in the 2002 series of matches, but nobody should ever forget his magnificent singles victory over Phil Mickelson, then the Number Two golfer in the world.

Whether or not Wales will have a representative in this year's series at Celtic Manor is not yet known.

But when the Ryder Cup comes to Newport it will be one more accolade, one more connection between Wales and golf's most important competition.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Bert Hodson was a lovely man, very modest and never one to "big himself up." I interviewed him when I was the Editor of The South Wales Golfer, some years ago, when we produced a special issue to mark the new millennium. He has never been given the credit he deserved, not only as the first Welshman to play in the Ryder Cup but also for a very successful professional career. He was twice Welsh Professional Champion (in 1927 and 1929) and held the course records at both Tenby and Toyal Porthcawl. When I spoke to him he was adamant that he was only chosen for the Ryder Cup team because Percy Allis (Peter's father) and Henry Cotton weren't available - a typically modest statement from a real gentleman.

 

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