1961 Ryder Cup: Changes to Format, but Another USA Win

Team USA 14.5, Team Great Britain 9.5

American Ryder Cup golfer Arnold Palmer in play at Royal Lytham during the 1961 Ryder Cup
Arnold Palmer plays a shot during the 1961 Ryder Cup. Palmer won three matches in his Ryder Cup debut. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The 1961 Ryder Cup began a period of change in the tournament's format, here taking the place of doubling the matches played and points at stake. This was also the year of Arnold Palmer's debut.

Dates: Oct. 13-14, 1961
Score: USA 14.5, Great Britain 9.5
Site: Royal Lytham & St. Annes in St. Annes, England
Captains: USA - Jerry Barber; Great Britain - Dai Rees

Following the outcome here, the all-time Ryder Cup results stood at 11 wins for Team USA and three victories for Team GB&I.

1961 Ryder Cup Team Rosters

United States
Jerry Barber
Billy Casper
Bill Collins
Dow Finsterwald
Doug Ford
Jay Hebert
Gene Littler
Arnold Palmer
Mike Souchak
Art Wall
Great Britain & Ireland
Peter Alliss, England
Ken Bousfield, England
Neil Coles, England
Tom Haliburton, Scotland
Bernard Hunt, England
Ralph Moffitt, England
Christy O'Connor Sr., Ireland
John Panton, Scotland
Dai Rees, Wales
Harry Weetman, England

Both Barber and Rees were playing captains. This was the final time that both team captains also played in the matches.

Notes on the 1961 Ryder Cup

The 1961 Ryder Cup was the last one played over just two days. Beginning with the 1963 Ryder Cup, the match was expanded to three days. Why? Because a new format was added in 1963; the 1961 match was the last one that did not have the fourballs format.

From the institution of the Ryder Cup matches, foursomes and singles match play had been the formats used, up through this point.

Here, the teams played two sessions of foursomes on Day 1, then two sessions of singles on Day 2. That doubled the number of matches played and expanded the points at stake from 12 to 24.

Another big change that took place at the 1961 Ryder Cup: Matches were no longer 36 holes; here, they started playing 18-hole matches.

That's what allowed for the double (morning and afternoon) sessions.

Team USA started strong, winning six of the available eight points in Day 1 foursomes; then coasted to victory in the singles.

Arnold Palmer played his first Ryder Cup for the U.S. and led the team with 3.5 points earned. Another American debutante was Billy Casper, who went 3-0-0. By the time both their Ryder Cup careers ended, Palmer and Casper ranked 1-2 in match victories, and Casper and Palmer ranked 1-2 in points earned. (View Ryder Cup Records to see where they stand now.)

For Team Great Britain, player-captain Dai Rees played himself all four sessions, and that was a good decision: He led his side with a 3-1-0 record. This was the last Ryder Cup at which the Great Britain side used a player-captain; all future GB/GB&I/Europe captains were non-playing.

Day 1 Results

Foursomes

Morning

  • Christy O'Connor Sr./Peter Alliss, GB, def. Doug Ford/Gene Littler, U.S., 4 and 3
  • Art Wall/Jay Hebert, U.S., def. John Panton/Bernard Hunt, GB, 4 and 3
  • Billy Casper/Arnold Palmer, U.S., def. Dai Rees/Ken Bousfield, GB, 2 and 1
  • Bill Collins/Mike Souchak, U.S., def. Tom Haliburton/Neil Coles, GB, 1 up

Afternoon

  • Art Wall/Jay Hebert, U.S., def. Christy O'Connor Sr./Peter Alliss, GB, 1-up
  • Billy Casper/Arnold Palmer, U.S., def. John Panton/Bernard Hunt, GB, 5 and 4
  • Dai Rees/Ken Bousfield, GB, def. Bill Collins/Mike Souchak, U.S., 4 and 2
  • Jerry Barber/Dow Finsterwald, U.S., def. Tom Haliburton/Neil Coles, GB, 1-up

Day 2 Results

Singles

Morning

  • Doug Ford, U.S., def. Harry Weetman, GB, 1-up
  • Mike Souchak, U.S., def. Ralph Moffitt, GB, 5 and 4
  • Arnold Palmer, U.S., halved with Peter Alliss, GB
  • Billy Casper, U.S., def. Ken Bousfield, GB, 5 and 3
  • Dai Rees, GB, def. Jay Hebert, U.S., 2 and 1
  • Neil Coles, GB, halved with Gene Littler, U.S.
  • Bernard Hunt, GB, def. Jerry Barber, U.S., 5 and 4
  • Dow Finsterwald, U.S., def. Christy O'Connor Sr., GB, 2 and 1

Afternoon

  • Art Wall, U.S., def. Harry Weetman, GB, 1-up
  • Peter Alliss, GB, def. Bill Collins, U.S., 3 and 2
  • Mike Souchak, U.S., def. Bernard Hunt, GB, 2 and 1
  • Arnold Palmer, U.S., def. Tom Haliburton, GB, 2 and 1
  • Dai Rees, GB, def. Doug Ford, U.S., 4 and 3
  • Ken Bousfield, GB, def. Jerry Barber, U.S., 1-up
  • Neil Coles, GB, def. Dow Finsterwald, U.S., 1-up
  • Gene Littler, U.S., halved with Christy O'Connor Sr., GB

Player Records at the 1961 Ryder Cup

Each golfer's record, listed as wins-losses-halves:

United States
Jerry Barber, 1-2-0
Billy Casper, 3-0-0
Bill Collins, 1-2-0
Dow Finsterwald, 2-1-0
Doug Ford, 1-2-0
Jay Hebert, 2-1-0
Gene Littler, 0-1-2
Arnold Palmer, 3-0-1
Mike Souchak, 3-1-0
Art Wall, 3-0-0
Great Britain & Ireland
Peter Alliss, 2-1-1
Ken Bousfield, 2-2-0
Neil Coles, 1-2-1
Tom Haliburton, 0-3-0
Bernard Hunt, 1-3-0
Ralph Moffitt, 0-1-0
Christy O'Connor Sr., 1-2-1
John Panton, 0-2-0
Dai Rees, 3-1-0
Harry Weetman, 0-2-0

1959 Ryder Cup | 1963 Ryder Cup
Ryder Cup Results