Darren's tears, Seve's miracle and the Battle of Brookline…. the best of the Ryder Cup
10:43 GMT, 25 September 2012
Ever since players from continental Europe were added to the British and Irish side in 1979, the Ryder Cup has lived up to its growing reputation as the biggest spectacle in golf.
The Ryder Cup is so hotly contested that even its humble beginning is the subject of debate.
One side has the president of
Inverness Club in Ohio as the first to raise the idea of a match between
professionals from America and Britain. Most historians lean toward
Samuel Ryder, the wealthy English seed merchant, as helping to organize
matches at Wentworth in 1926 at a time when Americans were coming over
for British Open qualifying. As the story goes, Ryder promised a cup to
the winner – even though a cup was never awarded.
The big one: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and US captain Davis Love (left) with the Ryder Cup by the clubhouse at Medinah Country Club
The Ryder Cup began a year later in
1927, and the fact it was named after the Englishman would have to give
his side a 1-up lead.
The competition has barely let up since. Here, Sportsmail looks at some of the most memorable Ryder Cup matches in history.
THE CONCESSION (1969)
The United States owned the Ryder Cup in this era, winning the previous five matches by at least five points, so not much was expected of Britain & Ireland in 1969 at Royal Birkdale. It turned out to be as close as a match could be – and the tie resulted in a putt that was conceded.
The matches were tied going into the final day, which at the time included two sessions of eight singles matches. It came down to the last match of the day.
Gentlemen: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus at Royal Birkdale in 1969
Tony Jacklin and Nicklaus came down the 18th with the Ryder Cup hanging in the balance. Nicklaus faced a five-footer, while Jacklin was just inside three feet. In his first Ryder Cup, Nicklaus made it for four. Jacklin now had to make his to halve the match.
Nicklaus instead picked up his coin and conceded the match, resulting in the first tie in Ryder Cup history – 16-16. The Americans still retained the cup, although captain Sam Snead was miffed that Nicklaus didn't make him putt. 'I don't think you would have missed that putt, but under these circumstances I would never give you the opportunity,' Nicklaus told him.
It is considered the greatest act of sportsmanship in the history of the Ryder Cup.
SEVE'S MIRACLE SHOT (1983)
It was Nicklaus who in 1977 made
the recommendation that all of continental Europe be included in the
Ryder Cup, and in his first year as captain, it almost came back to
haunt him. The opposing captain was Jacklin, and just like the time
Nicklaus and Jacklin first squared off as players in the Ryder Cup, the
matches were tied at 8 going into the Sunday singles.
The first singles match produced what
many consider to be the greatest shot ever hit in the Ryder Cup. Seve
Ballesteros played his first two shots so poorly on the par-five 18th at
PGA National that he was in the bunker, near a lip, and still had 245
yards to clear the water. Amazingly, he pulled out a three-wood and hit it
so flush that it narrowly cleared the lip and came just short of the
green, allowing him to halve the match. 'The greatest shot I ever saw,'
Nicklaus said, high praise coming from him.
The United States still won, 14-13, but it
was a sign that Europe finally was on equal footing with the Americans.
Two years later, Europe would win for the first time in 28 years.
Genius: Seve Ballesteros plays out of a bunker during the 1983 Ryder Cup
THE SPANISH ARMADA (1987)
Europe had finally ended a losing streak that had lasted 13 matches dating to 1957 when it won at The Belfry in 1985. But it still had never won the Ryder Cup on American soil, and this looked to be a daunting task. The European team was in the midst of internal turmoil, and it faced a U.S. squad with Nicklaus as the captain, playing on the Muirfield Village course that Nicklaus built.
And it was no contest.
The European players and administrators cleared the air over drinks on the eve of the Ryder Cup, and they took it to the Americans like never before, particularly when needed. Fourteen of the 28 matches went to the final hole. Europe won seven of them and halved four others.
A newcomer to the European team was a young Spaniard named Jose Maria Olazabal, and thus began the fabled 'Spanish Armada'. They won three of their four matches as Europe built a 10-5 lead, and the Americans never caught up. The height of their frustration came from 'Gentle' Ben Crenshaw, who snapped his putter after six holes of his singles match with Eamonn Darcy and had to use a one-iron or the blade of his sand wedge to putt the rest of the round. Darcy won, 1 up.
The lasting image is the European team celebrating from the balcony of the clubhouse that Nicklaus had built. It was an overthrow in so many ways.
Great friends: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Seve Ballesteros at Muirfield Village
THE WAR ON THE SHORE (1991)
This was the first Ryder Cup when one could argue the Americans really cared.
They had lost the Ryder Cup before, but not three successive times. The bad memory of these matches at Kiawah Island is that they lost the spirit under which they were meant to be played, starting with the moniker this Ryder Cup was given – The War on the Shore.
It came down to the final hole of the final match between Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin. The Americans led 14-13. The match was all square. If Langer won the hole, the Ryder Cup would end in a tie and Europe would keep the cup. Irwin's approach hit a spectator, he chipped weakly and made bogey. Langer's 45-foot birdie attempt went some 6 feet past the hole. He settled in over his par putt, and leaned his head back and yelled when it narrowly missed. It was gut-wrenching.
VIDEO: It all came down to the last hole…
THE BATTLE OF BROOKLINE (1999)
The 1999 Ryder Cup began with a flap
over whether the American players should have any stake in the millions
of dollars the PGA of America made off the event. None of them looked to
be worth a dime against Europe.
Europe captain Mark James didn't
bother playing three players until Sunday singles, and seven of his
players never sat out. It appeared to work just fine with a 10-6 lead
after two days. Before heading off to the team room, US captain Ben Crenshaw wagged his
finger at the camera and said 'I'm a big believer in fate. I have a
good feeling about this'. And with that, he walked out of the room.
Crenshaw loaded the front of his
singles lineup, and the Americans won the first seven matches, none of
them even reaching the 18th hole. Players whipped up the crowd into a
flag-waving frenzy, and the emotions spilled over the top at the end.
Justin Leonard rallied from four down against Jose Maria Olazabal, and they
were all square playing the 17th hole. A halve would be enough to
complete the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
Leonard's 45-foot birdie putt rammed
into the back of the cup, and his teammates (and wives) stormed across
the green – even though Olazabal still had a 25-foot birdie putt to
halve the hole. When order was restored, Olazabal missed and the
Americans had won the cup.
VIDEO: Team America loses it on the 17th green
MONTY'S BIG MOMENT (2004)
Astutely captained by Sam Torrance, Europe clinched victory by 15 points to 12 at The Belfry in 2002, with Colin Montgomerie inspiring the home side with a haul of 4-1/2 points out of a possible five.
But it was two years later when Montgomerie, who has never won a major championship despite a string of near misses during an otherwise brilliant career, finally won his moment of glory.
Captain Langer led the Europeans to a crushing triumph by 18-9 at Oakland Hills in 2004, matching the competition's biggest winning margin set by the Americans 23 years earlier.
Montgomerie, for so long Europe's talisman, had never had the chance to win the trophy with single shot but Lady Luck left the Scot with a tricky five-footer to seal victory over David Toms on the 18th green.
Monty made no mistake and secured the Cup for Europe.
VIDEO: Montgomerie seals the Ryder Cup
DARREN'S TEARS (2006)
Darren Clarke had lost his wife, Heather, to cancer just months before but the Northern Irishman battled through his fragile emotions to join Europe's team at the first ever Ryder Cup held on Irish soil, at the K Club in 2006.
The roar that greeted Clarke's appearance on the first tee on the opening day of the competition was both ear-shattering and spine-tingling. Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, who were Clarke and Lee Westwood's opponent that day, joined the applause.
Not a dry eye in the house: Darren Clarke (left) celebrates with Europe captain Ian Woosnam after beating Zach Johnson in the singles at the K Club
And it inspired the Ulsterman to birdie the first hole on the way to a huge win, and Clarke went on to claim a point in all three of his matches in the tournament as Europe triumphed 18 to 9 points, equalling their record winning margin of 2 years earlier
When he beat Zach Johnson in the singles on Sunday, Clarke raised his arms and with tears running down his cheeks, looked to the sky in tribute to his late wife.
G-MAC LORD'S IT AT THE MANOR (2010)
Rain threatened to turn the big event into a washout, and the schedule was ripped apart after a huge deluge on Friday prevented play, forcing the first four-day Ryder Cup in history.
But when the singles eventually came round, Magic Monday was well worth the wait.
Europe had taken a three-point lead into the singles but the US mounted a storming comeback and levelled the contest at 13-13 with just one match to play, between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.
McDowell birdied the 16th hole to go dormie two and when Mahan duffed his chip under extreme pressure to the 17th green the writing was on the wall.
The recently-crowned US Open champion held his nerve and secured the win, sparking wild scenes of celebration among the thousands of European fans lining the green.
In amongst them was Colin Montgomerie, the captain, securing his status as one of the greatest figures in Ryder Cup history.
VIDEO: It all came down to this…