Maurice Bembridge (left) pictured with lifelong friend Michael Curley after winning the PGA Super 60s at Thorpness in 2016

Ryder Cup legend Maurice Bembridge passes away

Maurice Bembridge, who played in four Ryder Cups and won six times on the European Tour, has passed away at the age of 79.

The Englishman turned professional at the age of 15 when he began working as an Assistant at Worksop Golf Club in Nottinghamshire. He made his Ryder Cup debut in 1969 in the famous tied contest at Royal Birkdale, winning two and halving one of his five matches, and went on to play in the next three Ryder Cups, in 1971, 73, and 75.

Following the formation of the European Tour in 1972, Bembridge won six times in total, with his first victory at the 1973 Martini International. His best season was in 1974 when he won claimed three titles – the Piccadilly Medal, the Double Diamond Strokeplay, and the Viyella PGA Championship. The following year he won the 1975 German Open and his final Tour victory came in the 1979 Benson & Hedges International Open.

Maurice Bembridge (left) during his Ryder Cup debut at Birkdale in 1969

One of his greatest claims to fame, however, stemmed from his performance in a tournament he did not win – the 1974 Masters Tournament. Bembridge began the final round three-over Par at Augusta National and ended it on five-under after posting an eight-under par round of 64 to finish tied-ninth. In doing so, he equalled the course record then shared by Jack Nicklaus and Lloyd Mangrum and subsequently eclipsed by Nick Price and Greg Norman. He took just 30 strokes on the back nine in a round that his 1969 Ryder Cup team-mate Peter Alliss rated as one of the finest in the game’s history.

Nicklaus, who finished tied-fourth, three shots adrift of Gary Player, the champion, had been served notice of Maurice’s capabilities a handful of months earlier in the 1974 Ryder Cup at Muirfield. The afternoon fourballs on day one saw Maurice and Brian Huggett defeat Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer 3&1. Then in the singles Nicklaus needed 36 holes to overcome Bembridge after the pair had halved the morning session, the 18-times major champion winning the afternoon encounter two-up.

Bembridge, whose best finish in a Major was fifth in the 1968 Open Championship, continued to play on the European Tour – now the DP World Tour – until 1987. He became a PGA Honorary Member in 1994 and, on turning 50 the following year, joined the European Senior Tour.

He went on to win two tournaments on the over-50s circuit, the Hippo Jersey Seniors in 1996 and Swedish Seniors two years later, and was a member of the European Senior Tour committee for nine years, serving as chairman from 2007-2011.

In total, he won 20 professional titles, including the Kenya Open three times (1968, 1969 and 1979), the 1969 News of the World Match Play, the Caltex Open in New Zealand in 1970, the 1971 Dunlop Masters and 1972 Lusaka Open in Zambia.