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Are These Your Favourite Ryder Cup Moments

By: | Mon 25 Sep 2023

The Ryder Cup has provided many moments of high drama over the years. Until Continental Europe got on board the USA used to hand out a thrashing every couple of years. But things have changed. Here, we look at some of the best Ryder Cup moments, including a rare close-run thing when the match was still the USA v GB&I.

Royal Birkdale, 1969

While American dominance rendered most of the previous matchless meaningless as a competitive event, it's hard to think of a better example of Ryder Cup golf than Birkdale in 1969.

It came down to the last hole of the last match between Open champion Tony Jacklin and the formidable Jack Nicklaus.

On their way down the final fairway the American asked: "How do you feel Tony?" Jacklin replied: "Bloody awful."

Nicklaus played the better hole and sank a four-foot putt, leaving Jacklin a three-footer to force the first ever tie in the Ryder Cup.

The American then made one of the great sporting gestures, picking up his opponent's ball marker rather than forcing Jacklin to putt out. He said: "I don't think you would have missed that Tony, but I didn't want to give you the chance."

Nicklaus incurred the wrath of US skipper Sam Snead for his decision, as the close competition brought out the best and worst of those involved.

Home skipper Eric Brown had earlier instructed his players not to look for American balls if they landed in the rough, and during one of the fourballs on the second day the captains had to come out and calm down the warring players.

The tone for the future had been set, both good and bad.

The Belfry, 1985

Tony Jacklin's team beat the United States in the Ryder Cup for the first time in 28 years after dominating the final day of the competition.

The European team beat the US by 16.5 points to 11.5 points - their biggest ever win over the Americans.

The closest Europe had come to defeating the US since 1957 was a draw in 1969.

Victory at The Belfry was secured by Scotland's Sam Torrance, who made an 18-foot birdie at the eighteenth hole and then burst into tears as he grasped the enormity of what he had just achieved.

The captain said the tension during the last day of the bi-annual tournament was considerable, but told reporters he was overjoyed at his team's success.

"I didn't know where to be, what to do, what green to be on - it's going to take a long time for this to sink in, it was just fantastic," he said.

After celebrating with champagne on the balcony of The Belfry clubhouse, the triumphant European team paraded their captain - and their trophy - through the cheering crowds.

Muirfield Village, 1987

Another historic triumph for the Europeans, but what made this win even more remarkable was that it happened away from home turf.

Tony Jacklin was the European captain again and he was up against old adversary Jack Nicklaus, with the American overseeing a titanic battle on a course he had designed.

The morning foursomes were shared on the opening day, with two wins for either side, but there was better to follow for Europe in the afternoon.

All four European fourballs were victorious and the visitors had a 6-2 lead going into the second day.

The Spanish pairing of Seve Ballesteros and Jose-Maria Olazabal continued their brilliant form by beating Payne Stewart and Ben Crenshaw, and victory for Europe looked certain going into the singles.

But the Americans claimed five of the first seven singles games and, with the match in the balance, nerves were frayed.

A tense game between Eamonn Darcy and Ben Crenshaw exploded on the sixth green when Crenshaw, already two holes down, snapped his putter in a fit of rage.

He had to complete his round putting with either a one iron or his sand wedge, but amazingly he bounced back, only to lose on the 18th.

Ballesteros sealed a phenomenal win by beating Curtis Strange. Amidst wild scenes of jubilation, Olazabal proceeded to do the cha-cha on the 18th green.

Brookline, 1999

For the third successive meeting, a single point decided the Ryder Cup but this time it was the Americans who were celebrating. And the manner of those celebrations left a bad taste in the mouth of captain Mark James and his team.

Europe were aiming for a hat-trick of wins, but were ultimately undone by some phenomenal performances by the Americans in the singles.

The Europeans enjoyed a great first day. Jesper Parnevik and Sergio Garcia won both their first day contests as Europe claimed five of the eight matches and surged to a 6-2 lead. Honours were shared on the second day with four points each.

Going into the final day, Europe needed just four points from the 12 singles matches.

But America thrashed their opponents, winning the opening six games. Irish rookie Padraig Harrington stopped the rot after overcoming the 1998 Masters and Open champion Mark O'Meara to win by one hole.

European hopes rested on Jose Maria Olazabal, who was involved in a monumental struggle with Justin Leonard.

The Spaniard was four up with seven to play, but fortunes quickly turned and only a magnificent birdie on the final hole ensured Olazabal claimed a half.

It was too little too late and the manner of defeat left a sour taste for the Europeans.

They were deeply unhappy with the American team's celebrations after Leonard's putt on the 17th all but ensured victory for the hosts.

The row rumbled on, with many questioning whether the spirit of Ryder Cup matches would ever be the same again.

Medinah, 2012

Europe produced a stunning final-day comeback to win the Ryder Cup at a shell-shocked Medinah.

The United States required only four-and-a-half points from the 12 on offer, but the Europeans secured eight and a half to clinch a historic 14½-13½ win.

Martin Kaymer sank a five-foot putt on the 18th green to get his team to the 14 points needed to retain the trophy.

Then a Tiger Woods bogey on the final green of the final match gifted Jose Maria Olazabal's side overall victory.

The victorious European captain said: "To the 12 men of Europe, what you did out there was outstanding. All men die but not all men live and you made me feel alive again this week.

"I don't know how heaven feels, but it must be close to this."

It was a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, the man who did so much to reinvigorate the competition and whose trademark navy blue and white the side wore on the final day in Chicago.

"Seve will always be present with this team," said fellow Spaniard Olazabal.

"He was a big factor for this event, for the European side. Last night, when we were having a meeting, I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing. And I think they did."

Gleneagles, 2014

Europe completed their mission in the singles to win the 40th Ryder Cup 16½-11½  at Gleneagles.

Captain Paul McGinley's side led 10-6 going into the final day and reached the 14½ needed to win the Cup outright when Welsh rookie Jamie Donaldson beat Keegan Bradley 4&3.

Rory McIlroy struck first with a 5&4 win against Rickie Fowler before fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell came back from three down to beat Jordan Spieth 2&1.

Martin Kaymer chipped in on 16 to defeat Bubba Watson 4&2 and Justin Rose scrapped back from four down against Hunter Mahan to grab a half on the last and take Europe to within half a point.

The 38-year-old Donaldson, playing in the 10th match, sealed the win against Bradley with a stunning approach to the 15th green to spark scenes of euphoria in the Perthshire hills.

McGinley said: "I'm very proud of every one of these players. I couldn't have asked for an ounce more from them. I've been involved in so many Ryder Cups and seen mistakes we've made.

"I've changed things a bit, bringing in the fifth vice-captain has been a factor in helping to prepare the guys, especially in the afternoon sessions, but we have had 12 players who have been awesome."

US captain Tom Watson was seeking redemption for Medinah two years earlier when Europe came back from 10-6 down to win 14½-13½ on the final day, but his side were unable to create their own sensation in Scotland.

"They have a wonderful team, but we came in here thinking we could beat them," said Watson, 65. "Turns out we couldn't.”

The Ryder Cup is unlike any other tournament in golf and the atmosphere is something that every golf fan should experience. The experts at Golfbreaks.com can help with all aspects of your Ryder Cup experience, from accommodation and ticket packages to hospitality and travel and playing some of the fantastic nearby courses.

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Tags: ryder cup PGA Tour european tour dp world tour

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