Ryder Cup Memories

Posted on: 19 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

What are your favourite Ryder Cup memories? Do you agree with our top ten?

The 37th Ryder Cup gets underway at Valhalla on Friday with both the USA and Europe squaring up for yet another showdown in golf’s most prestigious and dramatic competition.

Can Europe hold on to the trophy for another two years or will the US get their hands on the prize for the first time since 1999?

We take a walk down memory lane and visit some of the most compelling moments in the tournament’s history.

1) Clarke’s 2006

Clarke’s show of sporting strength, emotion and composure was shown in evidence two years ago at the K Club in Ireland. In the run up to the 2006 tournament, Clarke’s preparations were thrown into disarray after the his wife Heather lost her battle with cancer a matter of months before the first Ryder Cup was played on Irish soil.

Despite his loss, Clarke decided to play and with the unprecedented support of the home fans, he recorded a 100 per cent points tally by beating Zach Johnson on the Sunday. Clarke’s emotional display that weekend was the spine around which Europe built their record-equalling points tally.

2) Leonard Leads US Charge

With four points separating the two teams before the final day singles, the US team needed a special performance from its players if it was to avoid notching up a third consecutive defeat at Brookline in 1999.

Leonard gave such a performance to halve with Olazábal and give the Americans a 14½ to 13½ win, though the win was not without controversy. After Leonard holed his mammoth putt on the 17th the on-looking members of the US team and a number of supporters began celebrating on the green before Olazábal had taken his putt to halve the hole, and in so doing sparked a debate surrounding the spirit in which the game should be played.

3) Casey’s K Club Hole-In-One

Faldo will be hoping that his wildcard matchplay-specialist will be able to repeat the kind of performance that saw him sink an exquisite hole-in-one at the 14th in the 2006 competition - making him the only Ryder Cup player in history to win a foursomes match on the back of an ace.

4) Langer’s Missed Putt

Needing to sink a five-foot putt for par to beat Hale Irwin and keep the Cup in European hands with a 14-14 tie, Langer’s ball passed by the right edge of the hole, sparking chants of ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ from the jubilant home support and a cry of anguish from the German.

5) Calcavecchia’s Blow Up

Though the US team would eventually go on to win ‘The War on the Shore’ at Kiawah Island they certainly didn’t make it easy for themselves. Of all the slip-ups that weekend none surpass that of Mark Calcavecchia.

The 1989 British Open Champion was 4 up with four to play against Colin Montgomerie on the final day and having let Montgomerie back into the game with a missed two-footer on the 17th, Calcavecchia then bogeyed the last and gifted Monty the half.

6) Montgomerie’s Winning Putt

Though starved of success on the Majors circuit, Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup record is second only to Faldo. The Scot is yet to lose a singles match and in 2004 he had the honour of holing the putt that meant victory for Europe at Oakland Hills.

Though he missed out on making ‘Nick’s Team’ this year, his stature in the competition means that it surely won’t be too long before Monty is given the job of picking his own side to take on the Americans.

7) Olazábal’s Dance

Having played an instrumental role in winning the Cup for the first time on American soil in 1987, the Spanish debutant celebrated the momentous occasion with a shimmy, symbolic of the flair and passion with which the European team had played that year.

8) Jacklin, Nicklaus & ‘The Spirit Of The Game’

In the 1969 Ryder Cup, Tony Jacklin, the then Open Champion, came to the last neck with his opposite number Jack Nicklaus. After walking down the fairway the two greats of the game were seen exhibiting the kind of sporting attitude that many believe to be at the heart of competitive golf and the Ryder Cup in particular.

Nicklaus holed from four feet, leaving Jacklin with a three-foot putt to halve the match. Instead of waiting for Jacklin to line up his pressure putt, Nicklaus reached down, picked up the marker and handed it to Jacklin, saying “I know you would have not missed that, but, in these circumstances, I did not want to give you the opportunity”.

9) Faldo Stuns Azinger

This year’s captains have something of a history. Having edged out the American at the 1987 British Open, with both players matching each other par for par until Azinger’s bogeys on the last two holes, Faldo halved their singles match at the 1993 Belfry competition thanks in part to a spectacular hole-in-one at the 14th. After narrowly avoiding the bunker at the front of the green the ball skipped onto the putting surface before obediently rolling around the cup and into the hole.

10) McGinley’s Nerve

Having experienced mixed fortunes in his foursomes with fellow Irishmen, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington, in the 2002 Ryder Cup at The De Vere Belfry, Paul McGinley’s performance in the singles against Jim Furyk meant that the debutant would go down in Ryder Cup history as the man who reclaimed the golden chalice for Europe. His ten foot putt on the 18th green ensured a half with Furyk and sparked the exuberant celebrations led by Captain Sam Torrance.

What's your favourite Ryder Cup memory? Do you agree or disagree with our top ten?

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