Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Questions with Henry Lord, author of The Ryder Cup


Why do you feel this match is so important?

In an age when the world's top sports stars are increasingly seen as billion-dollar brands rather than people, it’s wonderful that an event like the Ryder Cup is still being played (mostly) in the spirit Samuel Ryder intended – with team grit, humble aspiration and solidarity; where professional golfers at the highest level come together to play not for prize money but for pride and a love of the game. Of course, it would be naïve to think there have never been branding and merchandising opportunities underpinning the event, there have. But as Bruce Critchley says in his foreword, 'winning requires huge personal commitment and exposure of nerve ... there is no such thing as a good show and a top ten finish; it is win or lose, glory or public scorn, and no fat cheque at the end to soften the blow of not quite finishing top.'

What's the most memorable Ryder Cup moment?

Everyone has their favourite. Personally, I remember as a boy going to the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry and watching Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal charging around the course in one of their games. They played with such energy and passion, it felt like the two fiery Spaniards could take on the entire USA team by themselves!

What's a fact about the Ryder Cup a lot of people don't know?

Before every Ryder Cup, each team captain places the name of one of their players in a sealed envelope. This player will stand down from the singles matches if a member of the opposition is unable to play with just cause. Each side would then be awarded half a point in such a situation.

What's your favourite image from the book?

The iconic image of Jack Nicklaus shaking hands with Tony Jacklin in their famous 1969 match at Royal Birkdale. Nicklaus had just conceded a two-an-a-half foot putt to Jacklin on the final green, halving their game and the entire Ryder Cup match for the first time in its history. Nicklaus spoke the famous words: 'I don't think you would have missed that putt, Tony, but under the circumstances I wasn't going to give you the opportunity.' A number of the American team questioned that decision at the time, but it was and remains one of the great acts of sportsmanship.

What's next for you?

There are one or two projects in the pipeline that I'm working on with my friend and colleague, the extremely gifted golf photographer Kevin Murray. After the successful launch of our book St Andrews: The Home of Golf during The Open this summer, we felt inspired to showcase more great courses in parts of the world, such as China, that are not necessarily on most golfers’ radar. Yet.



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