NORMAN Wood, who beat Lee Trevino in the 1975 match at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania, has expressed mild disappointment that Scotland’s past Ryder Cup representatives have not received official invites to Gleneagles for September’s showdown.
The Guernsey-based 67-year-old, a guest at the recent Scottish Golf Awards in Glasgow, is set to attend the biennial event for only the second time since his own appearance nearly 40 years ago but is paying for the trip to Perthshire himself.
“We’ve got a caravan booked in Pitlochry,” revealed Wood. “You can hardly find any accommodation, every hotel you phone they’ve doubled the price. I’ve only been to one Ryder Cup since I played. That was the 2001 one that was cancelled and it went to the following year at The Belfry. But they invited all the past Ryder Cup players there, they put us up, they had a special suite on the first tee virtually for us. I don’t know why they don’t recognise the past players now?
“I think there are only 22 Scottish Ryder Cup players ever (the total, in fact, is 20, 18 of whom hit a ball with the two others selected but not used). It’s a tiny amount really. A few of them are not here anymore, of course, and I don’t think it would cost too much in the grand scheme. It does grate a little bit. You’ve played for your country and you’ve done all that and you struggle to get a ticket. It’s desperate, really.”
Prestonpans-born Wood wonthe 1972 Italian Open and had both Bernard Gallacher and Brian Barnes among his team-mates when he made his sole Ryder Cup appearance in 1975 – the same year he finished a career-best 18th on the European Tour Order of Merit.
“Making the Ryder Cup was always a pro’s ambition – and I still get asked about the Ryder Cup, maybe every other day!” he admitted. They want to know what it was like to beat Trevino, one of the game’s leading lights at the time after winning five majors up to that point.
“Lee Trevino, everyone knew him,” noted Wood, who still plays regularly but enjoys birdwatching and salmon fishing just as much these days. “You come home and people say: ‘Wow, you beat Lee Trevino?’
“They ask what he was like. He never said a word during the first eight holes and then I went one up. It was like someone just pressed a switch. Yak, yak, yak, yak all the way. It almost made me more determined to beat him. He was just playing up to the crowd, you were on the tee and the galleries were all giggling and laughing. It was gamesmanship on his part – and it was off putting.
“He shook my hand as quickly as he could [after losing 2 and 1]. He jumped in a buggy and I never spoke to him again.”