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week - long off the tee and very impressive around the greens. He had beaten two of golf’s great players in one day on his way to the final - Henry Cotton and the Belgian Flory van Donck, who was to be the first continental holder of the Vardon Trophy in 1953, the season when he equalled von Nida’s record of seven wins. What an asset he would have been to the Ryder Cup side, but the inclusion of Continental Europeans was a long way off. Weetman was four under fours when he beat the ‘Maestro’ Cotton 3&2. He was to be in five finals from 1951 to 1960, winning two titles. Following his victory he was duly selected for his first Ryder Cup and was to go on to play in every match until 1963.
With American sponsorship the 1947 team had sailed on the Queen Mary, but the 1951 team were sent across the Atlantic second-class. I wrote in my column that this was bad for morale and put them under a big psychological handicap before the match even started. (Thirty years later The European captain Tony Jacklin was to insist on first class travel for his team). The winner of that year’s Spalding Tournament, Jack Hargreaves, became the fourth player to travel with a team to the USA and not get a game - and the seventh who was never to play in a match. They were to lose the match 9-2 and the men who had impressed at Hoylake did not win a point. It was Arthur Lees who came Arthur Laceygood with a win against Ed ‘Porky’ Oliver in the singles and, with partner Charlie Ward, accounting for Oliver and Henry Ransom in the foursomes. Charlie lost to Hogan 3&2 and Weetman lost to Lloyd Mangrum by 6&5. Harry Weetman was to beat the great Sam Snead at Wentworth in 1953 but despite his match play record he had little success and his next win was ten years later in his last match. Although he did not gain a point in the match the only other winner at Pinehurst was captain Arthur Lacey. He met a woman there and married her, eventually returning to live in the USA.

In 1951, at the Northumberland Golf Club, I first encountered Harry Fernie’s 16-year-old Newcastle born Welsh assistant, Dave Thomas He was the ‘white hope’ of the North-East; an impressive striker very long off the tee and, in those days, sometimes a little wild, but he soon harnessed his power to become one of the straightest long drivers in the game. I wrote of his potential in my newspaper column saying that he appeared to have everything it takes to get to the top, but hoping that he would not be rushed. “It would be a tragedy”, I said, “if his progress should be retarded by thrusting him into the ‘hurly-burly’ of major tournament play, with its tremendous mental strain, before he is quite ready”. His circumstances caused him to plunge straight into tournament golf and it was some years before he broke through, winning the British Assistants and Belgian Open titles in 1955. The Captain of the PGA in its Centenary Year, Thomas is now best known for his course designs, particularly the Belfry designed in partnership with Peter Alliss. In my article I said that Peter was another member of the “younger school” who I expected to “come out tops”. He had just returned from doing his National Service and I recalled that he had shown great promise before joining the forces and should not take long to re-establish himself in top line golf. A couple of years later he became the youngest player to be selected for the Ryder Cup and was to win 21 tournaments, including three in a row in 1958 - the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Opens. Like most touring pros, he still had a club job and some members resented him neglecting his duties. On his triumphant return one demanded to know where he had been and added resentfully: “I’ve been waiting three weeks for a lesson”.

Ryder Cup Team 1965Dave Thomas made his Ryder Cup debut a year after taking second place in the 1958 Open - after a playoff with five-time winner Peter Thomson. He was runner-up again in 1966 to Jack Nicklaus.

The name P. Alliss appears in the Ryder Cup and European Tour records over five decades and editors of record books sometimes get father and son confused; one shows Peter Alliss winning the News of the World Tournament in 1937, when he would have been only six years old! I played against Percy on a number of occasions and once