THE 2018 Ryder Cup event in Paris, which ended in a wildly-celebrated success for Team Europe on Sunday, brought back special memories for Halifax man Phil Griffin.
Thirty one years ago, at the German Open Championship at Frankfurt, Griffin was working as assistant to the tournament director when he had his own encounter with the famous trophy.
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Griffin, born in Southowram in 1942 and a former Hipperholme Grammar School pupil, found the trophy, donated by English businessman Samuel Ryder for the first event in 1927, in a box under his dining table.
He was happy to return the 17 inch high trophy, which weighs four pounds, to its anxious minder who thought he had lost it!
Griffin, who was well known on the local music scene before a career managing and designing golf courses, said the Ryder Cup had been at the German Open as part of a display on the stand of whisky company Johnny Walker.
“Late in the afternoon on the final day, I got chance to visit the players’ restaurant for lunch,” he explained.
“Being alone in the restaurant, I sat down at a table and placed my order. On stretching my feet under the table I felt something hard, had a look and saw an old wooden box.”
Griffin said his first thoughts were that it might be a bomb as it was a time when the Red Brigade were active around Europe.
However, being inquisitive, he pulled out the box from under the table, had a peek inside and was shocked to see the Ryder Cup.
“My first thought was that it was a set up and that maybe I was being caught on camera for a laugh, but there was no one about which made it even stranger.”
Griffin closed the box, pushed it back under the table and after finishing lunch went to the Johnny Walker display tent.
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He asked if he could see the cup and was told that it was in the centre on a display stand.
“When I told the gentleman that it was not there the guy went wild and said it must have been stolen and went into a panic.”
Griffin told him to calm down and that the trophy was in the restaurant tent.
“He then said ‘Oh my God, I forgot…I took it with me when I went to lunch’.”
Griffin’s reward for his information was to have his photo taken with the trophy.
Several years later, Griffin was on business at the PGA headquarters at the Belfry in Sutton Coldfield with PGA chairman Sandy Jones and told him the story of his encounter in Frankfurt.
“I asked him if the PGA now kept the cup in a safe place at the Belfry HQ,” said Griffin.
“We were in the board room at the time and Sandy said ‘look behind the curtains on those large windows’ and there was the cup again.”
Griffin, whose three children live in Halifax, played skiffle and then rock and roll around Halifax before turning to rock and roll. He played on tour before getting married and then in working men’s clubs around Yorkshire and Lancashire. He played every Saturday Night at the Victoria Hall for two years.
Griffin then worked in the tourism industry as a tour and safari guide and then turned to golf, working for Mark MacCormack at IMG as assistant tournament manager on the European Tour.
He later managed golf clubs and then started course design and management in Germany.
He is now working in the Gulf area and Brazil with corrosion protection for pipelines, oil wells and offshore wind farms.
The globetrotter has also met a string of famous people, many from from music and golf, plus Muhammad Ali and Mother Theresa.