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McDowell joins elite list of Irish to sink winning putt

STEEL-nerved Graeme McDowell was last night branded a hero for scoring the winning putt to deliver success for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

But he is following in the footsteps of other Irish men.

Paul McGinley will be remembered as the man who holed the winning putt in the 34th Ryder Cup at The De Vere Belfry. His 10-footer on the 18th green secured a half with Jim Furyk and with it the famous trophy for Sam Torrance's Team in 2002.

In 1995, Philip Walton also made a winning putt at Oak Hill as Europe trailed by two points heading into the final day's singles.

Walton etched his name in Ryder Cup history with a 1-up victory over American Jay Haas, who was widely presumed to be the match favourite on home soil in upstate New York.

The Irishman had been three up with three to play when Haas holed his bunker shot at the 16th and then won the 17th with a par as a nervous Walton missed his five-foot par putt.

His survival instincts kicked in, though, as Haas's nerves deserted him on the 18th tee.

As far back as 1989, Christy O'Connor Jr made history with his two-iron at The Belfry.

O'Connor had played just one Ryder Cup, 14 years earlier, when European captain Tony Jacklin made the Irishman a captain's selection for the team's home defence of the trophy.

Playing a singles with Freddie Couples, the rivals were all square playing the last, Couples having hammered a 300-yard drive down the fairway.

O'Connor was still 235 yards out with water between him and the green but he hit the shot of his life, a two-iron to inside four feet for a birdie.

The victory gave Europe the point that halved the match and retained the trophy.

Karl MacGinty and Liam Kelly on an epic day for Irish golf: See Sport

Irish Independent