Ian Woosnam (1 Masters, 8 Ryder Cup's, 1 Ryder Cup Captain.)
Nicknamed 'Woosie', 'Woosers', or the 'Wee Welshman', Woosnam was one of the "Big Five" generation of European golfers, all born within 12 months of one another, all of whom have won majors, and made Europe competitive in the Ryder Cup. His peers in this group were Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, and Sandy Lyle. Woosnam was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame and will be inducted in September 2017.
Woosnam was born in the town of Oswestry, Shropshire in England, and his family lived in the nearby village of St Martin's in Shropshire. He started playing at the unique Llanymynech Golf Club, which straddles the Wales-England border. He is short for a male golfer at 1.64 m (5 ft 4 1⁄2 in), but he is a powerful hitter. He played as an amateur in regional competitions in the English county of Shropshire alongside Sandy Lyle.
Woosnam turned professional in 1976 and first played the European Tour in 1979. Woosnam spent his early years on Tour driving around the continent in a camper van, living on a diet of baked beans to save money. After three modest seasons, his career took off in 1982 when he won the Swiss Open and came eighth on the Order of Merit (prize money list). He also finished in the top ten on the Order of Merit every year from 1983 to 1991 and again in 1993, 1996, and 1997, making thirteen times in all. In 1987 and 1990 he was first, and in the former year he set a world record for global tournament earnings of £1,062,662. He has won 28 official money events on the European Tour and many other events around the world.
Woosnam placed third in the 1986 Open Championship. In 1991, he reached the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, eventually spending a total of 50 weeks as World Number 1 (7 April 1991 – 21 March 1992). In the same year, he emulated his British rivals, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo, by winning the Masters Tournament; the first person representing Wales to ever win a major championship.
After winning the Torras Monte Carlo Golf Open in 1991, Woosnam had a decline in form in the second half of the year and said that he was suffering from exhaustion after playing in too many tournaments across the world. In December 1991, his sterling silver Masters trophy, a $9,000 copy of the original, was stolen from a British train.
Woosnam's last official European Tour victory was in the 1997 Volvo PGA Championship. In the late 1990s, his form began to fade, but he nearly made a spectacular comeback at The Open Championship in 2001, when he finished third despite suffering a two-stroke penalty for starting the final round with 15 clubs in his bag instead of the allowable maximum of 14. While his caddie, Miles Byrne, was responsible for this error, Woosnam surprisingly decided not to fire him stating: "It is the biggest mistake he will make in his life. He won't do it again. He's a good caddie. I am not going to sack him. He's a good lad."
Ironically, Woosnam did fire his caddie two weeks later when, after a night drinking on the town, he failed to turn up to tee-time. In the same year, at the age of 43, Woosnam became the oldest player to win the World Match Play Championship (not an official European Tour event at the time) when he beat Pádraig Harrington 2 & 1 in the 2001 final. Woosnam also became the first player to capture the trophy in three different decades, having previously won the World Match Play Championship in 1987 and 1990. Woosnam had a record outward nine holes of 28 (-7) in the 2001 final against Harrington, which tied the tournament record of 7 successive birdies in a match.
Woosnam was a member of eight consecutive European Ryder Cup teams from 1983 to 1997. Despite not winning a singles match he accumulated an overall record of 14 wins, 12 losses and 5 halves in 31 matches. He was a vice captain for the 2002 European team and was elected as captain for the 2006 Ryder Cup, leading Europe to victory over the U.S. 18½–9½ at the K Club, County Kildare, Ireland.
Woosnam was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in early 1987, which affects approximately 1 in 200 men and 1 in 500 women in Britain. In December that year, Woosnam won the first of his three BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year awards, which he went on to win in 1990 and 1991.
On 1 June 2008, Woosnam won his first stroke play title in 11 years at the Parkridge Polish Seniors Championship at Kraków Valley Golf and Country Club, finishing with a course record 63.The tournament was his third appearance on European Seniors Tour, which he joined after turning 50 years old in March 2008. Woosnam would go on to win the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit that year becoming the only person to have won the Order of Merit on both the European Seniors Tour and the regular European Tour.
In September 2010. Woosnam was inducted to the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.