After the most one-sided Ryder Cup in history two years earlier at East Lake, in Atlanta, when the USA beat GB&I 23-9, hopes weren’t high of turning that around at Royal Birkdale. The legendary Byron Nelson skippered the visiting side on the Lancashire coast, which included the formidable talents of Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Tony Lema, Billy Casper and Ken Venturi. At the top of the order, having been a playing captain in Atlanta, was 36-year old Arnold Palmer. He had won the last of his seven Major titles at the Masters 18 months earlier.
A riveted Jane Coop caught a close-up view of The King’s preparations as he practised for the three-day competition. Palmer was on the putting green, exhibiting the brilliant, but very individual, stroke that made him the face of the game in the 1960s. Judging by the first morning of the competition, though, Arnold could probably have spent a bit more time holing out. Teamed up with Dave Marr, the pair were thumped 6&5 by Dave Thomas and George Will in the first set of foursomes.
Fortunately for all of Arnie’s Army, his opening result was an aberration. He and Marr got revenge on Thomas and Will that afternoon – handing out a 6&5 beating. The final score of 19.5-12.5 implies the Americans doled out a hammering but the match was tight until the games reached the two sets of singles matches on the final day.