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10 greatest moments in Ryder Cup history

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An emotional Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006

An emotional Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006

An emotional Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006

There have been some incredible memories created during the last 39 editions of the Ryder Cup. Here are the 10 greatest moments.

1. Birkdale, 1969

A mean-spirited match that featured Eric Brown, the Great Britain & Ireland captain, instructing his team not to help look for their opponents’ balls in the rough, finished with one of the great sporting gestures. On the final green in the final singles match, Jack Nicklaus gave Tony Jacklin a six-footer, knowing it meant the Ryder Cup would be drawn. His team were furious, while the world continues to applaud.

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2. Chicago, 2012

One of the great sporting comebacks was sealed by a nerveless six-footer by the German Martin Kaymer to beat Steve Stricker and then by Tiger Woods bizarrely giving Francesco Molinari a three-footer. But the hero of the fightback from 10-4 down was Ian Poulter, who reeled off five closing birdies in the Saturday afternoon fourballs for him and Rory McIlroy to beat Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. The bulging eyeballs said it all.

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Ian Poulter played a key part in the 2012 Ryder Cup comeback in Chicago.

 

3. The Belfry, 1985

The US had not been beaten in 28 years but all the hope produced by Europe’s close brush in Florida two years before came to fruition. It was appropriate that it was not Ballesteros, Faldo or Langer who holed the winning putt but Sam Torrance, a Scot whose passion summed up the new European cause. When he holed the 22-footer on the 18th to beat Andy North, he held his arms aloft, tears flooding, in an immortal pose.

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4. Kiawah Island, 1991

The most tense finish in the match’s history. After three days of “Desert Storm”-fuelled acrimony it was all down to the final singles between Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin. Langer needed to win the 18th to secure a half, which would have meant Europe retain the Ryder Cup because of a draw. But after Irwin received a huge break off the tee, his snap hook, bouncing off a spectator, Langer needed a six-footer. It slipped by.

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5. K Club, 2006

The Ryder Cup roar on the first tee on the first morning has become one of the match’s great traditions. Never was it louder or, indeed, more emotional when greeting Darren Clarke, six weeks after he had lost his wife, Heather, to cancer. Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, the opponents of Lee Westwood and the Ulsterman, joined the applause and Clarke somehow proceeded to produce a birdie on his way to a remarkable triumph.

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An emotional Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006

An emotional Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006

An emotional Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006

 

6. Celtic Manor, 2010

The monsoon weather caused the Ryder Cup to go to an extra day for the first time, but instead of a damp squib the Usk Valley witnessed a golfing firecracker. An American fightback took it to the final match in which Graeme McDowell holed a 25ft putt on the 16th to take the advantage and then win on the 17th when Hunter Mahan fluffed a chip. The crowd’s wild celebrations showed it was a victory for Wales as much as Europe.

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7. Brookline, 1999

Maybe the most controversial moment in the match’s history. America had fought back from 10-6 and all eyes were on Justin Leonard’s match with José María Olazábal. Leonard had been four down but it was all square on the 17th. Leonard holed a 45-footer putt and despite Olazábal still having his own 25-footer for the half, the US team and their wives invaded the green. The Spaniard was to miss and the US win was greeted by euphoria and anger.

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8. Walton Heath, 1981

There is no doubt which is the best team to have played in the Ryder Cup – Dave Marr’s “Untouchables”. With the likes of Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino, Floyd, Miller and Kite, they were simply irresistible in their record 18½-9½ dismantling of John Jacobs’s team, which had become Europe two years before. Their mastery was summed up by Larry Nelson making his record – played nine, won nine – when beating Mark James two up.

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9. Palm Beach Gardens, 1983

The US captain, Jack Nicklaus, called it “the greatest shot I ever saw” and it summed up the Spaniard’s standing in the Ryder Cup. In a bunker 245 yards from the green, Ballesteros took out a three wood, cleared the lip by an inch, sliced it 50 yards and somehow evaded the water to the right of the green. At first, silence greeted the shot, before incredulous laughter broke out. Ballesteros upped-and-downed to halve with Fuzzy Zoeller and golf had its rivalry.

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10. Lindrick, 1957

Nobody gave Great Britain & Ireland a chance when Dai Rees’s men entered the singles 3-1 down. They had not beaten the US for 24 years and many believed the Cup’s history was bleak. Yet inspired by the little Welshman, GB&I won six out of the eight singles, with only Peter Alliss losing. Rees, who beat Ed Furgol 7&6, was crowned BBC Sports Personality that year and many experts believe this shock result gave the Cup the breath of life.

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Online Editors