The Ryder Cup comes home as European Captain enjoys tour around St Albans
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The Ryder Cup came home to St Albans as part of a tour which explored the history of the world-famous sporting event.
Thomas Bjorn, the 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain, has been competing in the European Tour’s Golf Sixes tournament at the Centurion Club in Hemel Hempstead, but took time out of his schedule for a tour around tournament founder Samuel Ryder’s old haunts.
The tour began in the Town Hall, where cllr Annie Brewster, portfolio holder for sports, heritage and leisure, explained the plans for the new museum and art gallery. Thomas, accompanied by the 17-inch high Ryder Cup trophy, visited the old council chamber where Samuel Ryder presided as Mayor of St Albans in 1909.
As Mayor, Samuel Ryder was also chief magistrate, and Thomas, who has taken part in seven Ryder Cups, three as a player and four as a vice-captain, sat with the trophy on the magistrate’s bench beneath the William IV coat of arms.
Cllr Brewster said: “As a keen golfer and top fan of the Ryder Cup myself it was a fantastic privilege to meet Thomas and bring the Ryder Cup trophy back to St Albans.”
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Samuel Ryder made his fortune selling penny seed packets, initially from his home in Folly Lane until he established a larger headquarters, now the Clarion Hotel, in Holywell Hill. He also built an exhibition hall next to his office to display his plants, in a building which is now Café Rouge.
Thomas, who is 47 and from Denmark, also visited Verulam Golf Club where Samuel Ryder took up the game at the age of 50, to aid his ill health. Local members, amazed to see the European captain walking in with the trophy, posed for a photo with him in front of Samuel Ryder’s portrait.
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Samuel Ryder started the competiton after sponsoring several golf tournaments, and the first official Ryder Cup match was played in Massachusetts in 1927.
Thomas said: ““As the current Ryder Cup Captain, it is obviously very easy for me, and everyone involved with the 2018 team, to become absorbed with the present and what we are preparing to do in France and to forget the history of the competition.
“It was great to visit the new museum and the other sites that were so familiar to Samuel Ryder. It was a trip I will never forget.”