History
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History

Europe

On this day: Team Europe's first outing

September 14, 1979 – Continental Europe enters the fray
 
In recent years, golf fans on the east side of the Atlantic have enjoyed a sustained period of Ryder Cup glory with eight victories in the last 11 contests – but it has not always been that way.
 
While Great Britain Teams made up of players from England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands won two of the first four contests between 1927 and 1933, parity quickly disappeared as the United States established dominance over the golfing world.
 
Northern Irishmen entered the Team in 1947, with those from the Republic coming on board six years later. However, by 1977 the Team had lost 16 of the last 18 contests, with a victory in 1957 and a tie in 1969 all they had to show for 44 years of hurt.
 
Something had to change and in 1979 players from across the channel were allowed to compete, with Spanish pair Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido lining up in Englishman John Jacobs' Team.
 
Ballesteros was in the process of writing himself into the golfing history books and at the age of 22 was the reigning Open champion and three-time Order of Merit winner.
 
Garrido was a three-time European Tour winner and on September 14, 1979 they lined up together in the morning fourballs at The Greenbrier, going down 2 and 1 to Lanny Wadkins and Larry Nelson as Europe lost the session 3-1
 
More history was made in the foursomes as the duo claimed the first win by continental Europeans, beating Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green 3 and 2, but the visiting team still trailed 5½-2½ at the end of the day.
 
The following day the pair would lose twice more to the duo of Wadkins and Nelson, with Nelson defeating Ballesteros 3 and 2 in the singles on Sunday as he finished the event with a perfect five-point record.
 
Garrido was also beaten one up by Mark Hayes as Europe went down to a 17-11 defeat and the Americans extended their undefeated run to 11 matches.
 
Team Europe may not have initially fared any better than their Great Britain and Ireland predecessors, but the seeds of a new era had been sown - a change was coming.