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The Ryder Cup Golfers You May Have Forgotten

By: | Mon 22 Mar 2021

SEVE BALLESTEROS, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods...they are all men who are part and parcel of Ryder Cup history.

They have multiple appearances behind them. Seve, Monty and Olazabal were fearsome competitors who lived for the Ryder Cup, an event that brought out the very best in them.

These are golfers who have enjoyed successful, enduring careers. But for every Olazabal there is a Peter Baker. For every Furyk there is a Jim Gallagher. Here we look at some of the Ryder Cup's one-hit wonders, men who enjoyed their brief moments in the sun.

And there have been plenty of them…

Jean van de Velde, Andrew Coltart and Jarmo Sandelin (1999)

Jean van de Velde

The 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline is remembered for the disgraceful scenes when players, spectators and wives invaded the 17th green as Justin Leonard holed a monstrous putt against Jose Maria Olazabal in the singles. It was the key moment in the US improbable fightback. But it is all too easily forgotten that European captain Mark James left Coltart, van de Velde and Sandelin on the sidelines for the entire week. None of them hit a shot in anger until the singles. They were like lambs to the slaughter.

Coltart finished 24th on the Order of Merit and was given a wild card by James, which made his decision not to use him all the more baffling. And the Scot turned up on the Sunday to find that he had been drawn against Tiger Woods, who beat him 3&2. Van de Velde qualified for the team on the strength of his second-place finish at The Open at Carnoustie when he famously took seven shots at the final hole when a six would have given him the Claret Jug. Sandelin was a huge hitter but even he would agree that he never quite knew where the ball was going to finish up.

Steven Richardson (1991)

Richardson burst onto the European Tour scene with two wins in his second season. He finished second in the Order of Merit to a certain Seve Ballesteros. Two wins in partnership with Mark James followed at the 1991 Ryder Cup but afterwards, he faltered badly, with only four top 10s in eight seasons from 1994 onwards, eventually losing his card in 2001.

Peter Baker (1993)

Victories at the Dunhill British Masters and Scandinavian Open were enough for Peter Baker to win selection for the 1993 team, and the Shropshire man hardly looked out of place among the game’s biggest hitters. Forming a more-than-useful partnership with his good friend Ian Woosnam, Baker won two points in the fourballs and another from his singles tussle with Corey Pavin.

Wayne Levi (1991)

PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1990, Levi comfortably made it onto the 1991 Ryder Cup team but was underused, playing just twice with both of his matches ending in defeat. A 12-time PGA Tour winner, he never won again after his rookie appearance – but won twice on the Champions Tour in the early 2000s.

Jeff Overton (2010)

After three runner-up finishes, two thirds and T11 at the 2010 Open, Overton and rookie Rickie Fowler became the first US players to qualify for the Ryder Cup team without winning on the PGA Tour. Like so many before him, his game fell off a cliff afterwards.

David Feherty (1991)

It is all too easy to forget that Feherty was a formidable player for a number of years. A five-time winner on the European Tour, he made his one and only Ryder Cup appearance in 1991 aided by a T7 finish at the US PGA Championship. After that, his best major finish of T4 came at the 1994 Open before he retired from tour golf aged 39.

Oliver Wilson (2008)

Oliver Wilson

Wilson had three runner-up finishes in 2008, which was good enough for him to qualify for Nick Faldo’s Ryder Cup team. After sitting out Friday’s play all together, Wilson partnered Henrik Stenson in the Saturday foursomes against Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim, Wilson played well in a 2&1 win but was left out in the afternoon four balls. Then it was back to the bench, before running into Boo Weekley in the singles, losing 4&2.

Brett Wetterich (2006)

A win at the 2006 Byron Nelson – his only PGA Tour win – secured Wetterich’s place on the USA team for the disaster at The K Club. He featured in only two matches in Ireland – losing them both – as the USA were beaten 18.5-9.5. He hasn’t played a full season on the PGA Tour since 2010.

Brian Waites (1983)

Waites was the oldest player by some seven years when he made his Ryder Cup debut in 1983 aged 43. The Englishman, who finished seventh in the Order of Merit that year to qualify, joined the Seniors Tour in its debut 1992 season and enjoyed a successful career, winning four times in five seasons from 1994-98. But he was somewhat overwhelmed by the Ryder Cup.

Chris Riley (2004)

Riley made the US team thanks to a tied fourth at the 2004 US PGA Championship meant Riley claimed the final automatic berth for 2004 team, who were humbled 18.5-9.5 in what remains their worst defeat on home soil. After that, Riley finished outside the top 125 on the money list in 2005 and 2006. It’s fair to say that the Ryder Cup was not his fondest golfing memory.

JJ Henry (2006)

Henry was a rookie at The K Club, qualifying off the back of a win at the 2006 Buick Championship. He halved all three of his matches as the USA were thrashed by Ian Woosnam’s inspired team. Since then, he’s won twice on the PGA Tour – the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open and 2015 Barracuda Championship but never again came close to representing his country.

Ken Green (1989)

Green was three PGA Tour events in seven months to qualify for the 1989 Ryder Cup team. He partnered Mark Calcavecchia to two foursomes wins but lost to Jose Maria Canizares in the singles. He never won again on the PGA Tour and went off the rails. He later lost his leg in a car accident in 2009 but remarkably returned to competitive golf on the Champions Tour.

Jim Gallagher (1993)

Gallagher was a member of the last American team to win on European soil. He beat Seve Ballesteros in singles and won the Tour Championship a month after the match. Only two PGA Tour wins followed though – both in 1995 – and Gallagher quickly faded from the scene.

Ignacio Garrido (1997)

Following in the footsteps of his father, Antonio, Garrido qualified for the Ryder Cup after finishing sixth on the European Tour Order of Merit. A solid career followed, including a famous win at the 2003 PGA Championship, but he lost his card at the end of the 2013 season after racking up his 500th European Tour start.

Peter Dawson (1977)

Peter Dawson

The first left-hander to compete in the Ryder Cup, Peter Dawson (namesake of the former R&A Chief Executive), secured one European Tour victory before representing Great Britain & Ireland in 1977, where he claimed a singles victory over veteran former PGA champion, Don January.

Peter has since become an acclaimed PGA Master Professional, publishing a book on tips for the senior golfer, Now For The Back Nine, and he has contributed a series of tuition videos on Golfshake.

Michael King (1979)

King enjoyed a season of astonishing consistency in 1979, enjoying eight top-six finishes. He qualified for the Ryder Cup team but he only played once. He won a week after the Ryder Cup for his only European Tour win but, sadly, was forced to retire in 1987 due to a chronic back problem which had affected him since 1974.

Dan Pohl (1991)

Most famous for his near-miss at the 1982 Masters, when he lost in a playoff to Craig Stadler, Pohl won twice in 1987 to make the Ryder Cup team. However, afterwards he suffered a series injuries starting with lower back surgery, which meant he never got back to that level.

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Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

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