The 24th Ryder Cup Matches were held 18–20 September 1981 at the Walton Heath Golf Club in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, England, southwest of London. The United States team won the competition by a score of 181⁄2 to 91⁄2 points. It was the largest margin of defeat for a European team (since 1979) at the Ryder Cup until 2021. It is also the largest margin of defeat for the host team on European soil.
|Dates||18–20 September 1981|
|Venue||Walton Heath Golf Club|
|United States wins the Ryder Cup|
It was the sixth and final Ryder Cup for Jack Nicklaus as a competitor and he won all four of his matches. He had failed to make the team for the first time in 1979. Bernhard Langer made his Ryder Cup debut in 1981 and was 1–2 in pairs and halved his singles match.
The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format was adjusted slightly from the 1979 event, with the order of play swapped on the first two days and the third day singles matches held in a single session:
- Day 1 — 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in a morning session and 4 four-ball (better ball) matches in an afternoon session
- Day 2 — 4 four-ball matches in a morning session and 4 foursome matches in an afternoon session
- Day 3 — 12 singles matches
With a total of 28 points, 141⁄2 points were required to win the Cup. All matches were played to a maximum of 18 holes.
Ten of the European team were selected using a points list based on money earned in European Tour Events. The final event was the Benson & Hedges International Open which finished on 24 August. Eamonn Darcy finished in a tie for second place in this tournament, lifting him from 12th to 7th in the list and relegating Mark James to 11th place. The two remaining places were chosen immediately after the Benson & Hedges International by a selection committee consisting of John Jacobs (the captain), Neil Coles and Bernhard Langer. They chose Mark James and Peter Oosterhuis, who was playing on the PGA Tour and had recently won the Canadian Open.
|John Jacobs||56||Non-playing captain|
|José María Cañizares||34||4||0||Rookie|
Players chosen by the selection committee are shown in yellow.
11 of the American team were selected from a points list. Qualification based on the points list finished after the Western Open on July 5. Bill Rogers earned his place by finishing 5th in this final event, while Jack Nicklaus only assured his place in the team after a final round 69 and a tie for 7th place. The final place in the team was allocated to the winner of the 1981 PGA Championship (which finished on August 9), provided he was not in the top 11, in which case the 12th player in the points list would qualify (Howard Twitty). With his victory in the PGA Championship, Larry Nelson gained the last slot. Nelson had finished 17th in the points list.
|Dave Marr||47||Non-playing captain|
Nelson qualified by virtue of winning the 1981 PGA Championship.
18 September 1981
|Lyle/James||2 & 1||Rogers/Lietzke|
|Gallacher/Smyth||3 & 2||Irwin/Floyd|
|Oosterhuis/Faldo||4 & 3||Watson/Nicklaus|
|Lyle/James||3 & 2||Crenshaw/Pate|
|Smyth/Cañizares||6 & 5||Rogers/Lietzke|
|Gallacher/Darcy||2 & 1||Irwin/Floyd|
19 September 1981
|Faldo/Torrance||7 & 5||Trevino/Pate|
|Langer/Piñero||2 & 1||Floyd/Irwin|
|Cañizares/Smyth||3 & 2||Nicklaus/Watson|
|Oosterhuis/Torrance||2 & 1||Trevino/Pate|
|Langer/Piñero||3 & 2||Nicklaus/Watson|
|Lyle/James||3 & 2||Rogers/Floyd|
|Smyth/Gallacher||3 & 2||Kite/Nelson|
Sunday's singles matchesEdit
20 September 1981
|Sam Torrance||5 & 3||Lee Trevino|
|Sandy Lyle||3 & 2||Tom Kite|
|Bernard Gallacher||halved||Bill Rogers|
|Mark James||2 up||Larry Nelson|
|Des Smyth||6 & 4||Ben Crenshaw|
|Bernhard Langer||halved||Bruce Lietzke|
|Manuel Piñero||4 & 2||Jerry Pate|
|José María Cañizares||1 up||Hale Irwin|
|Nick Faldo||2 & 1||Johnny Miller|
|Howard Clark||4 & 3||Tom Watson|
|Peter Oosterhuis||1 up||Raymond Floyd|
|Eamonn Darcy||5 & 3||Jack Nicklaus|
Individual player recordsEdit
Each entry refers to the win–loss–half record of the player.
|José María Cañizares||1||1–2–0||0–1–0||0–0–0||1–1–0|
- "Nelson, U.S. clinch Ryder Cup victory". Palm Beach Post. wire services. 21 September 1981. p. D7.
- "Win puts Seve back in the big time". The Age. Melbourne. 13 October 1981. p. 46.
- "Captain defends Ryder Cup team". Palm Beach Post. 25 August 1981. p. D4.
- "Jacklin and Seve Axed". New Straits Times. Malaysia. 25 August 1981. p. 34.
- "Golf - Ryder Cup Standing". The Times, Tuesday, August 18 1981; pg. 9; Issue 61009.
- "Early birdies give Weiskopf a rewarding performance". The Times, Monday, August 24 1981; pg. 12; Issue 61014.
- "Ryder Cup place for matchwinner James". The Times, Monday, August 24 1981; pg. 12; Issue 61014.
- "Rogers falls back but still earns cup place". The Times, Tuesday, July 7, 1981; pg. 8; Issue 60973.
- "The Nelson touch earns place in Ryder Cup team". The Times, Monday, August 10, 1981; pg. 12; Issue 61012.
- "2014 Ryder Cup Media and Players' Guide". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.