Youngest Players Ever in the Ryder Cup

Sergio Garcia swings an iron in 2008

Who is the youngest golfer ever named to a Ryder Cup team? That golfer is Sergio Garcia, and he is also the only teenager to play in the prestigious biennial competition. But there have been a handful of other players younger than 21 in the tournament.

Garcia was 19 years, 8 months and 15 days old when the 1999 Ryder Cup teed off. Garcia, from Spain, was a member of Team Europe. Garcia was not a captain's pick: He earned his way onto the team by finishing seventh on the European Ryder Cup points list, and was ranked No. 25 in the world. Garcia hadn't yet won on the PGA Tour, but he had won once on the European Tour. And about a month before the Ryder Cup, he finished second to Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.

And Garcia, as he would be for many years to come, was a very productive member of Team Europe. He played in the maximum five matches, winning three, halving one and losing one. That 3-1-1 record produced 3.5 points, tied for most by any golfer in the competition.

On Day 1, Garcia partnered Jesper Parnevik to a 2-and-1 victory over Tiger Woods/Tom Lehman in foursomes, then in fourballs Garcia/Parnevik won again, 1-up, over Phil Mickelson/Jim Furyk. On Day 2, Garcia/Parnevik beat Payne Stewart/Justin Leonard, 3 and 2, in foursomes, then halved in fourballs with Davis Love III and David Duval. The 19-year-old Garcia's only loss was to Jim Furyk in singles, 4 and 3.

The List: Youngest Ryder Cup Golfers

  • Sergio Garcia, Europe: 19 years, 8 months, 15 days old at the 1999 Ryder Cup. Had 3-1-1 (wins-losses-ties) record.
  • Nick Faldo, GB&I/Europe: 20 years, 1 month, 28 days old at the 1977 Ryder Cup. Was undefeated with a 3-0-0 record.
  • Paul Way, Europe: 20 years, 216 days old at the 1983 Ryder Cup. Had 3-1-1 record.
  • Bernard Gallacher, GB&I/Europe: 20 years, 221 days old at the 1969 Ryder Cup. Had 2-2-0 record.
  • Ken Brown, GB&I/Europe: 20 years, 249 days old at the 1977 Ryder Cup. Had 0-1-0 record.
Note that Faldo's 3-0-0 record in the 1977 Ryder Cup is the only unblemished record among the youngest Ryder Cup golfers, and that record included a singles victory over the world's best player at that time, Tom Watson.

Also note that no members of Team USA appear among the five youngest Ryder Cup players listed above. But there has been one American under 21 years old in the Ryder Cup, plus several more younger than 22. Here are those youngest Team USA golfers:

  • Horton Smith: 20 years, 11 months, 4 days at the 1929 Ryder Cup. Had 1-0-0 record.
  • Jordan Spieth: 21 years, 1 month, 30 days at the 2014 Ryder Cup. Had 2-1-1 record.
  • Tiger Woods: 21 years, 8 months, 27 days at the 1997 Ryder Cup. Had 1-3-1 record.
  • Rickie Fowler: 21 years, 9 months, 18 days at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Had 0-1-2 record.

See also: Oldest players in the Ryder Cup

Photo credit: Steven Newton, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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