Friday, 14 September 2012
European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills (left) with Matt Boyles, general sales manager of the international and specialist sales division of the BMW Group  (Getty Images)
European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills (left) with Matt Boyles, general sales manager of the international and specialist sales division of the BMW Group (Getty Images)

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Golf fans gearing up for another sporting spectacular at this month’s Ryder Cup can visit a unique exhibition at a London BMW showroom highlighting the biennial contest’s rich history.

The exhibition, which runs until the middle of October, charts the iconic golf event from its earliest beginnings as a friendly match between British and American PGA professionals through to the impact made by the legendary Samuel Ryder, who donated the famous gold trophy.

Already successfully staged at St Albans – home of Samuel Ryder - and the University of Birmingham, the collection of artefacts from past encounters was officially opened last night (Thursday, September 13) in one of the showrooms of Ryder Cup official partner BMW at Marsham Street, Westminster.

The Ryder Cup trophy itself was also present ahead of its forthcoming journey across the Atlantic where Europe’s captain Jose Maria Olazabal and his team will be bidding to make a successful defence at Medinah Country Club, Chicago from September 28-30.

The exhibition features personal items from past players as well as rarely seen photographs while a series of specially created display cases and graphic story boards recount the history of the past 38 matches, covering its growth from a friendly competition to one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills commented: “We would like to thank BMW for hosting this exhibition. BMW are one of golf’s strongest supporters around the world and I think Samuel Ryder would be very proud to see his trophy here in the showroom at one of the world’s leading companies.

“The storyboards show the evolution of the Ryder Cup from its origins back in 1926 at The Wentworth Club through to the 39th match which will be played at Medinah Country Club in two weeks time.

“Samuel Ryder himself was a man whose style mirrored the values of golf such as honesty, respect and integrity and his legacy spreads across many boundaries many of which the iconic Ryder Cup represents.”

Matt Boyles, general sales manager of the international and specialist sales division of the BMW Group, added: “From BMW’s point of view we are extremely proud of our association with the Ryder Cup, The PGA and The European Tour.

“The Ryder Cup is such an inspirational event for us to be involved in and we are delighted to be able to host this fascinating exhibition on the history of this famous contest.”

David Wright, PGA heritage and member support executive, who has been responsible for accumulating much of the memorabilia over the past two decades, hopes that golf fans will take the opportunity to find out more about the event which is now one of the most popular sporting events in the world.

“The Ryder Cup has a rich and interesting history which seems to increase each time the teams meet,” he said.

“The exhibition offers a fascinating insight into the early years of the matches and shows how the rivalry and contest has evolved over the decades to become one of the most compelling events in world sport.”

The origins of the contest lie with St Albans seed merchant Samuel Ryder whose passion for golf was an integral part in the instigation of the Ryder Cup.

Having taken up the sport late in his life at aged 50, on the advice of his doctor, he quickly became hooked on the game at his local club Verulam Golf Club where he received regular lessons with head pro Abe Mitchell who went on to play in The Ryder Cup and is the little figure adorning the top of the trophy.

Having witnessed an early friendly match between Great Britain and America at Wentworth, Ryder became a prime mover in making it a regular affair and donated the striking gold cup that will again be the focus of attention when Europe defend it against America in Medinah, Chicago, at the end of the month.

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