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The Masters: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in our five of the best at Augusta National

The Masters: An old Golden Bear and a young Tiger plus Faldo, Mickelson and Crenshaw – five of the best at Augusta

PUBLISHED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

The Masters almost always produces dramatic golf worthy of the beautiful backdrop of Augusta National.

Here, Sportsmail picks out five of the most memorable tournaments starting with the legend that is Jack Nicklaus way back in 1986.

1) 1986 – Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus was 46, had not won a tournament in two years or a major in six, and was being written off as a spent force. But the Golden Bear produced one more back-nine charge in the 50th Masters, coming home in 30 for a final round of 65 to beat Greg Norman and Tom Kite by a single shot.

Nicklaus went eagle-birdie-birdie on the 15th, 16th and 17th as Seve Ballesteros squandered the lead by hitting his approach to the 15th into the water short of the green.

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

2) 1997 – Tiger Woods

Kite was again the runner-up 11 years later, but this time by an incredible 12 shots as Woods tore up the record books to claim his first major title. That had looked distinctly unlikely as the 21-year-old played the front nine of his opening round in 40, but he came back in 30 to lie just three shots off the lead.

A second-round 66 took Woods three clear of Colin Montgomerie, a lead he extended to nine shots after round three and a record 12 after a closing 69 made him the youngest ever winner at Augusta.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Passing the torch: Tiger Woods tore up the record books to win his first title at just 21-years-old

3) 2004 – Phil Mickelson

'I don't think any Masters will ever compare to the '86 Masters but, for me, this one does.'

That was the verdict of an emotional Mickelson after he had broken his major duck at the 47th time of asking. Mickelson had shared the lead with Chris Di Marco heading into the final round, but struggled to a front-nine 38 before a brilliant back nine of 31, culminating in a decisive birdie on the 18th, was enough to beat Ernie Els by a shot after the South African's excellent 67.

Crowd Pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Crowd pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

4) 1995 – Ben Crenshaw

At 43, Crenshaw was not quite as old as Nicklaus in 1986, but his second Masters title in 1995 was equally remarkable and emotional.

Harvey Penick, who was Crenshaw's golf coach since he was seven years old, had died the week before and Crenshaw spent the Tuesday of Masters week at Penick's funeral in Austin, Texas.

The image of Crenshaw doubled over in grief and happiness after his final putt dropped – he did not have a single three-putt in 72 holes – has become an iconic Augusta image.

Ben Crenshaw

Ben Crenshaw

Emotional: Ben Crenshaw is hugged by his caddy Carl Jackson after winning for the second time at AQugusta National. Harvey Penick, who had coached Crenshaw since he was seven, died a week before the tournament

5) 1996 – Nick Faldo

Greg Norman had finished third behind Crenshaw in 1995, but it was the manner of his second-place finish to Nick Faldo the following year which was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Norman led from the outset after an opening 63, the joint lowest score ever in a major championship and only the second 63 ever at Augusta, and after adding rounds of 69 and 71 he was six shots clear of Faldo heading into the final round.

However, his lead was down to two shots by the turn and a back nine of 40 – despite two birdies – meant a closing 78 to Faldo's 67 and a five-shot winning margin for the Englishman.

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

Picking up the pieces: Nick Faldo took advantage of an awful final round from Greg Norman to win in 1996

Rory McIlroy"s year to remember has just one major blip – Derek Lawrenson

McIlroy's year to remember has just one major blip

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 19 November 2012

The fact he will be receiving end-of-season awards left, right and centre says everything about Rory McIlroy's wonderful campaign. But, on the eve of the grand finale at the Dubai World Championship, does his stellar year rank as the best ever by a European golfer

It is certainly right up there. It is better than any managed by Colin Montgomerie, for example, and he won eight orders of merit. Better than any mustered by Lee Westwood, and he won six tournaments in 2000.

Not even some of the greats of the past could claim a season like Rory's. A major, and finishing No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic Bernhard Langer never had a season like that. Neither did Ian Woosnam, during some admittedly great years from 1987 to 1991.

Year of years: Rory McIlroy has tasted success on both sides of the Atlantic in 2012

Year of years: Rory McIlroy has tasted success on both sides of the Atlantic in 2012

More from Derek Lawrenson…

EXCLUSIVE: Westwood ditches injured caddie Foster and gives job to Kerr
15/11/12

Rory checks out with double top as McIlroy follows in Donald's footsteps
11/11/12

Fourteen-year-old Chinese schoolboy Guan earns place at Masters by winning Asia-Pacific Championship
04/11/12

Fourteen-year-old Chinese prodigy in line to win place at the Masters next year
02/11/12

Rory's 156m deal with Nike cleared to go as Titleist admit they won't renew contract
30/10/12

Rose almost 1m richer after invoking Ryder Cup miracle to beat Westwood in Turkey
12/10/12

Rose and Westwood face final showdown as beach boy McIlroy enjoys 187,000 break
11/10/12

Thunder blow to McIlroy's Turkey hopes and soaks beach trip plans with Wozniacki
10/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

What about the outgoing Ryder Cup captain, Jose Maria Olazabal In 1994 he won the Masters, Europe's flagship event at Wentworth, and ran away with the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone. But better than a major, two money list titles plus a couple of other big wins

Let's salute Sandy Lyle and what he achieved in 1988. Three wins in America, including the Masters, and two big wins in Europe at the British Masters and the World Match Play Championship. But does fifth on the European order of merit and seventh in America stand muster against numero uno on both tours

Then there's Seve. In 1983 he won the Masters plus regular tournament victories on three different continents. It was the year he first starred in the Ryder Cup. But his annus mirabilus still ranks a hair's breath below a year McIlroy started by becoming world No 1 at the age of just 22 and finished head and shoulders above the No 2, Luke Donald.

So to the top three. We've got Rory. We've got Sir Nick Faldo in 1990. And we've got Padraig Harrington in 2008. In terms of consistency, it isn't a contest. Faldo only managed half a dozen top 10s all year in 1990; McIlroy had 10 in America alone. In 2008, Harrington had only two top 10s in 14 starts in Europe; McIlroy had more than that by March.

But it isn't just about consistency at their level, is it If you asked McIlroy would he swap his season for either of the other two contenders, he'd snap your hand off. That, of course, is because they each won two majors during their year of years, with Faldo winning the Masters and the Open, and Harrington the Open and the PGA.

Trip down memory lane: Faldo finished third in the US Open in 1990, and won in Hong Kong

Trip down Memory Lane: Faldo won the Masters and the Open in 1990

Third on the list of all-time great seasons for McIlroy, then, with the exciting thought there is room for improvement. What about that stodgy middle when he was distracted, and how much better will he be when he trims his schedule from 26 events to a more manageable 22 My hunch is he might have three of the top five all-time great seasons by the time he is through.

As for the current top two, let's give the nod to Sir Nick, who also finished third in the US Open in 1990, and won in Hong Kong.

Westwood taking American Dream seriously

No-one can say there's anything half-hearted about Lee Westwood's impending move to America. He will leave these shores in the middle of next month to defend the Thailand Open. The next time he will touch down on British soil will be the middle of May.

On the move: Westwood won't touch down in Britain until the middle of May

On the move: Westwood won't touch down in Britain until the middle of May

Quote of the Week

'Today was the difference between going back to the Challenge Tour or staying on the European Tour and it was probably the most stressful day of my life. But to pull it off and stay on the main tour, it feels better than a win.'

Highly-rated Englishman Tommy Fleetwood might not have fulfilled his promise this year but the gutsy manner in which he kept his card in South Africa on Sunday suggests that the man who was my 'one to watch' this season really will be worth keeping an eye on in 2013.

Henrik proves class is permanent

Not a great weekend for the doomsayers who think the European Tour is a busted flush. One week after a victory for 19 year old Matteo Manassero, Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is almost 30 years his senior, won in Hong Kong to become the oldest winner. Then there was a win in South Africa for another of the tour's great characters, Henrik Stenson.

Success: Henrik Stenson won in South Africa

Success: Henrik Stenson won in South Africa

Not too many come back from completely misplacing their muse, in the manner that Lee Westwood did, or Paul Lawrie. But Stenson is well on his way to completing his second comeback from the dead.

The first time he went from almost literally not being able to keep the ball on a golf course to the world's top five. This time, he's fighting back after losing millions in the Allen Stanford financial scandal. Last year he played more than a dozen events on each of the two main tours and managed just one top-10 finish. Now he's got his first win in over three years.

His career might be the embodiment of that time-honoured saying: form is temporary but class is permanent.

Ryder Cup 2012: How Europe won it – Derek Lawrenson

The Masters of Medinah: How Europe came from behind to retain the Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 1 October 2012

How do you win the Ryder Cup when you’re four points down and the Americans are so exultant the bookmakers have made them 33-1 on to win the trophy How do you beat the best player in the American team without so much as a single warm-up shot

How do you keep the will to win when the crowd has turned febrile and they’re making Hannibal Lecter noises at you as you’re trying to play a bunker shot Or hissing ‘Miss it! Miss it!’ when you’re standing over a putt to complete the Medinah miracle

Three of the classiest men in golf stood centre stage on Sunday and what stories Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer had to tell. It is part of Ryder Cup legend now that McIlroy beat Keegan Bradley after arriving at the course with minutes to spare.

High point (from left): Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter, Nicolas Colsaerts, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer lift captain Jose Maria Olazabal aloft

High point (from left): Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter, Nicolas Colsaerts, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer lift captain Jose Maria Olazabal aloft

If you had to pick one moment from the whole exhausting occasion and pronounce it the one when the tide shifted inexorably from red to blue, it would have to be Rose’s astonishing success over Phil Mickelson.

And then there was Kaymer, standing over a five-foot putt to retain the trophy, just as his idol Bernhard Langer did at Kiawah Island in 1991.

As Kaymer said, emphasising one particular word: ‘If I’m lucky enough to have grandchildren one day, this is the story that I will HAVE to tell.’

Nobody who saw Kaymer on Saturday morning could have believed he would be playing the role of hero the following afternoon. His captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, had told him he would be sitting out both matches after an awful showing the previous day and he was distraught.

Nerves of steel: Kaymer holes the winning putt on the 18th green

Nerves of steel: Kaymer holes the winning putt on the 18th green

Nerves of steel: Kaymer holes the winning putt on the 18th green

single scores GRAPHIC.jpg

A major champion as recently as 2010, how could this happen If truth be told, the 27-year-old was feeling sorry for himself.

‘I fully respected the captain’s decision, but when you play badly on the Friday you want to show people what you can do the following day,’ he said. ‘I didn’t have that chance.’

He sought out Langer for advice. Trust him to put Kaymer right and spell out what team golf is all about.

‘My attitude wasn’t right, but it was after my chat with Bernhard,’ said Kaymer, smiling.

Rose had holed nothing in a Saturday fourballs pummelling and was feeling helpless with the team trailing by six points as he went off the course. He had been one of the few success stories in the defeat at Valhalla in 2008 and this Ryder Cup was unfolding in a similarly disappointing fashion.

Like his team-mates, though, Rose took inspiration from the heroics of his great mate Ian Poulter, who put in the best five holes of his career to win the anchor fourballs match with McIlroy. The deficit had been reduced to four overnight and there was at least a glimmer of hope.

Four matches in two days at a Ryder Cup is an awesome workload. Historically, only 25 per cent of those players who have done that go on to win their singles. But Rose still took his clubs back to his hotel and practised on the carpet in his room.

‘I was just hitting some putts and
thinking about things and something clicked to do with my grip pressure
that really paid off for me,’ he said.

Sunday morning dawned the same as so
many others for McIlroy when he is on the road. He picked up the phone
and talked to his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, who was competing in a
tennis tournament in Beijing. He went for a walk around the hotel to
kill time before retreating to his room on the 14th floor. McIlroy was
excited about the day and eager to find out how Americans like his
opponent Bradley, who had looked unbeatable with his partner Mickelson,
would fare on his own.

Imperious: McIlroy saw off the challenge of Bradley

Imperious: McIlroy saw off the challenge of Bradley

Captain marvel: Olazabal holds aloft the Ryder Cup

Captain marvel: Olazabal holds aloft the Ryder Cup

Back in the lobby, a few groupie fans
were moaning they hadn’t seen him leave. Maggie Budzar, manning the
transportation desk for the PGA of America, made up a white lie that he
had left but noticed his name had not been crossed off the list. She
phoned the course to see if he was there but was told he was not. She
rang the European Tour to alert them.

After ignoring a couple of calls from
numbers he didn’t recognise, McIlroy eventually answered one from his
manager, Conor Ridge.

‘Are you at the course’ asked Conor.

‘No, I’m not,’ replied McIlroy.

‘You’re teeing off in 25 minutes.’

‘No, I’m not, it’s an hour and 25.’

‘You’re taking the mick, you’re at the golf course.’

‘No, I’m not.’

‘Rory, listen to me, you need to get there.’

So it was that McIlroy sprinted into the lobby and found the state trooper who might have been the American star of the final day. With the emergency light on and every speed limit broken, McIlroy sat in the patrol car on the edge of panic.

‘It would have been bad enough missing my tee-time playing for myself but letting down all my team-mates and the whole of Europe I’ve never been so worried in my life,’ he confessed.

Bradley, a nice guy under that scarily intense demeanour, was worried McIlroy had been involved in an accident or had received bad news from home. They shared a laugh when McIlroy explained the real story.

Late arrival: McIlroy is greeted by Bradley at the first tee

Late arrival: McIlroy is greeted by Bradley at the first tee

Then the chanting began. McIlroy liked the one on the first tee: ‘Rory where are you Your tee-time is right now.’

But he soon grew tired of people
shouting at him and pointing to their watches. ‘/10/01/article-2211371-15494B58000005DC-876_634x366.jpg” width=”634″ height=”366″ alt=”Domino effect: Donald won the first point of the day against Watson” class=”blkBorder” />

Domino effect: Donald won the first point of the day against Watson

The miracle according to Twitter…

JUSTIN ROSE
@JustinRose99

‘No messing tonight!’

One of Europe’s star performers gets ready to party after tweeting a picture of the personalised bottles of champagne presented to the team

IAN POULTER
@IanJamesPoulter

‘On the plane on the way back to Orlando, why does it feel like we just robbed a bank. Not sure how long it will to take to sink in.’

The man of the tournament feeling slightly quilty after Europe’s smash and grab

RORY McILROY
@McIlroyRory

‘Wow!!!!!!! Did that just happen!!!! Unbelievable performance from all the boys today! Seve…..This one is for you!’

The world No 1 dedicates Europe’s win to the late, great Seve Ballesteros

PHIL NEVILLE
@fizzer18

‘Morning all, struggled sleeping after watching the Ryder cup last night, got to be the best sporting event on tv it never lets u down!’

The Everton star on a dramatic night

BUBBA WATSON
@bubbawatson

‘Wow! What a finish. Congrats to Europe! Seve would be proud.’

Bubba shows true dignity in defeat, while still managing to display his patriotic devotion

MICHAEL OWEN
@themichaelowen

‘Greatest Sporting Year ever Tour De France, Olympics, Champions League, epic end to Premiership, Andy Murray, Ryder Cup, just to name a few.’

Owen reflects on a memorable year

Rose, however, felt great and was
playing as such. He took an early two-hole lead as Europe got the start
they wanted. But it all started to change around the turn. He started
losing holes and his rhythm.

The crowd could sense his discomfort.
At the 12th he was facing a difficult bunker shot and was just taking
the club back when the Hannibal Lecter noises – hard to describe if you
haven’t seen the film, but suffice to say, very unpleasant if you’re
trying to play a shot – disrupted his concentration. An appalled
Mickelson pointed out the perpetrator to a marshal.

‘Are we all settled now’ asked Rose of the crowd.

‘It was really a gut check at that point,’ he added. ‘After that it became a battle and a test of how badly I wanted to win.’

The Americans had been banging on about this being the start of a Bradley-McIlroy rivalry and the pair will unquestionably have more duels in the future. But a rivalry at the top of the world rankings There’s no chance. McIlroy is head and shoulders above anyone else in golf and probably half an upper torso ahead of the valiant Bradley.

So it was that class told and McIlroy followed Donald, the admirable Paul Lawrie and the incredible Poulter in putting points on the board.

The trouble was, Dustin Johnson was beating Nicolas Colsaerts and Mickelson was standing over an eight-foot putt for a birdie at the par-four 15th, with Rose plugged in the bunker in two. It looked for all the world that Rose would be two down with three to play, but a fabulous bunker shot rescued a par and Mickelson missed his short birdie.

‘I dodged a bullet right there, no question about it,’ said Rose.

Mickelson got over his disappointment by holing a great 12-foot putt for par at the 16th. Now Rose was staring over one from 10 feet for a half. He holed it and let out an exultant cry. ‘The first big putt I’d holed all week,’ he said.

Walking to the 17th tee, he was thinking to himself that in normal circumstances he would have taken a halved match in a heartbeat.

‘I knew there was nothing normal about
this,’ he said. ‘I knew I had to win my match. /10/01/article-2211371-1548F8A5000005DC-687_634x388.jpg” width=”634″ height=”388″ alt=”Thriller: Mickelson (right) and Rose played out a thrilling match” class=”blkBorder” />

Thriller: Mickelson (right) and Rose played out a thrilling match

Both players were just over the green at the 17th, with Mickelson to play first. The man with the imperious short game had the flag taken out and thought his chip was going in until it veered off at the death. Then it was Rose, standing over a putt from 35 feet.

‘How often do they go in Once every 25 tries But I knew I’d hit a good putt and it was a fantastic feeling when it went in,’ said Rose.

So to the 18th, where Mickelson was left with a short putt for par and Rose had a 15-foot birdie effort to complete an improbable victory.

‘My legs were shaking so hard I could hardly feel them, but that putt told me putting is about heart and that if you’re strong enough in the head, it will override how your body is feeling,’ said Rose.

Champagne moment: Justin Rose tweeted a picture of the individual bottles handed to each player

Champagne moment: Justin Rose tweeted a picture of the individual bottles handed to each player

Champagne moment: Justin Rose tweeted a picture of the individual bottles handed to each player

‘When it went in, I looked at the Seve logo on my sleeve and thought of him. I was overjoyed. I turned to my team-mates in ecstasy but then I saw Phil and I didn’t want to rub it in his face. So there was a moment of calm out of respect as I shook his hand, and then it was joy.’

Rose’s gloriously unlikely victory was the sort that had to happen for a European success. Another came when Sergio Garcia, who had been outplayed by Jim Furyk, was the beneficiary as the American lost his nerve. Lee Westwood showed his mental strength to put two awful days behind him and claim a point against Matt Kuchar.

The home side were under unbearable pressure now. For them, it all came down to the two men who they thought would prove their most dependable partnership. First up was Steve Stricker. If he didn’t win, it didn’t matter what Tiger Woods did in the bottom match.

Standing opposite him was Kaymer. In the end it came down to that five-foot putt and Kaymer could not help but think of the eerie symmetry as he surveyed it from all angles. He could not help but recall that the only other Ryder Cup player from Germany had found himself in exactly the same situation.

Magic moment: Kaymer is mobbed by his team-mates after sinking the winning putt

Magic moment: Kaymer is mobbed by his team-mates after sinking the winning putt

Magic moment: Kaymer is mobbed by his team-mates after sinking the winning putt

Magic moment: Kaymer is mobbed by his team-mates after sinking the winning putt

For just a moment, he thought: ‘Oh no, it can’t be another German missing this putt, can it’
There is a reason why some players win majors and others who are equally gifted fall short, and it comes down to moments like this. Kaymer’s putt never looked like finishing anywhere but the middle of the hole.

So that was the story of Medinah and the final day of the Ryder Cup on September 30, 2012. A day fit to compare with any in even the rich and dramatic history of this unrivalled contest.

When it was over, the recriminations for the Americans began. But this was more about the team who lived up to their mentor Seve Ballesteros’s maxim never to give in, rather than the side who didn’t get the job done.

This was about men like McIlroy, Rose and Kaymer and their wildly exciting journeys to scale the summit of their sport.

History makers: Europe celebrating completing the greatest ever Ryder Cup comeback

History makers: Europe celebrating completing the greatest ever Ryder Cup comeback

History makers: Europe celebrating completing the greatest ever Ryder Cup comeback

Ryder Cup 2012: Martin Kaymer reveals Bernand Langer influence after sinking winning putt

Kaymer reveals Langer influence after sinking winning putt at Medinah

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UPDATED:

23:44 GMT, 30 September 2012

Martin Kaymer hailed the influence of former captain Bernhard Langer after ensuring Europe retained the Ryder Cup in sensational fashion at Medinah.

Trailing 10-6 overnight, Jose Maria Olazabal's side needed to match the largest last-day comeback in the event's history – achieved by the home side at Brookline in 1999 – to take the trophy back from Chicago.

And they did so in incredible style, winning the first five singles matches and adding further wins from Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood before Kaymer secured the decisive point on the 18th by beating Steve Stricker.

Winning putt: Kaymer completed a stunning comeback from Europe

Winning putt: Kaymer completed a stunning comeback from Europe

Winning putt: Kaymer completed a stunning comeback from Europe

The final match between Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari was halved when Woods missed a close-range par putt on the last, giving Europe outright victory by 14 points to 13.

'It's a feeling I've never had before,' Kaymer said. 'On Friday I sat down with Bernhard and talked to him about the Ryder Cup because my attitude was not the right one, but after that I know how important the Ryder Cup is.'

Langer had missed a putt of six feet to secure the cup at Kiawah Island in 1991, but his fellow German somehow held his nerve from the same distance after charging his birdie attempt past the hole.

Pandemonium: Europe's fans go wild after the victory is secured

Pandemonium: Europe's fans go wild after the victory is secured

Asked to compare the win to his US PGA triumph in 2010, Kaymer added: 'It's a completely different level. The major was just for me. Here, my brother and father were here and now I know how great it feels to win the Ryder Cup.'

Justin Rose, who birdied the last two holes to beat Phil Mickelson, said: 'We are in shock.

Match of the day: Rose beat Mickelson in a thrilling encounter

Match of the day: Rose beat Mickelson in a thrilling encounter

Match of the day: Rose beat Mickelson in a thrilling encounter

'We wanted to believe, we really did want to believe, but we had no illusions of how hard that day was going to be; four points against a team that's played so well all week.'

Ian Poulter, who also won the last two holes to defeat Webb Simpson and make it four wins out of four this week, added: 'Ollie said to us at the start of the week, Ryder Cup is what memories and dreams are made of, and he's been awesome.

'And last night in that team room was buzzing. We weren't four down. We were all square. We just knew we had a chance and do you know what This is history right here. This has been unbelievable.

'I'm going to enjoy it, with the best team I've ever seen, and the best captain I've ever seen, and everyone else, because this right here is special.'

Champagne moment: Kaymer, Sergio Garcia (above right) and Francesco Molinari (below) celebrate the victory

Champagne moment: Kaymer, Sergio Garcia (above right) and Francesco Molinari (below) celebrate the victory

Champagne moment: Kaymer, Sergio Garcia (above right) and Francesco Molinari (below) celebrate the victory

Ryder Cup 2012: Secret to great golf partnerships

So, what is the secret to making a great golf partnership

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UPDATED:

21:36 GMT, 25 September 2012

It is the question that has kept every Ryder Cup captain awake. What makes for a successful pairing Answer that correctly and they can look forward to the history books bestowing a kind fate on their stewardship. Get it wrong and they are contemptuously dismissed as a cock-up.

As a perfect example, look at how the captains from the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills are remembered. Hal Sutton is recalled as a hopeless failure for pairing Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson; Bernhard Langer an inspiration for bringing together Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie.

Here are a few things every captain considers – or should do – when deciding the pairings.

Unhappy couple: Mickelson (left) and Woods were paired together in 2004

Unhappy couple: Mickelson (left) and Woods were paired together in 2004

Nationality

In the case of the European team, they might be playing for their continent but the pride of representing their country draws players from the same nation together and has been utilised by virtually every skipper, when possible.

The finest Ryder Cup partnership of all was forged on Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal hailing from the same coastline. They lived just an hour’s drive from one another. They spoke the same language and shared the same passion.

Instinctively they knew what made the other tick. They were quickly labelled the ‘Spanish Armada’ when they sailed to Muirfield Village in 1987. When they proved invincible, the idea of drawing on the bonds of nationhood was afloat.

Since then we have seen other Spaniards play together,

Irishmen, Italians, Scots, Englishmen and Swedes, too. Drawing on the same principle, this time we will see Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy play together and England’s Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Ulster's finest: McDowell (left) and McIlroy (right) were paired together in 2010

Ulster's finest: McDowell (left) and McIlroy (right) were paired together in 2010

Friendship

You do not have to be great buddies to play together. You do not even have to get along at all off the course, as Ian Woosnam and Sir Nick Faldo proved when putting their differences aside to form a brilliant partnership in 1987. But it has to help.

Rose and Poulter live walking distance from one another. They have been friends since a young Rose, struggling under the weight of a plethora of missed cuts, found strength when Poulter put a protective arm around his shoulder. It’s a natural pairing.

Big Brother

There's nothing to stop a captain putting two rookies together but most recognise it as a high-risk strategy that leaves you open to criticism if it backfires. Through the ages, the majority of skippers have favoured the route of appealing to the patriarchal instincts of an old hand to shepherd a nervous newcomer through his first experience. This was another area where Ballesteros was the master. Most people remember the way he helped an ashen Olazabal through the first day in 1987.

But he was an expert by then, having done the same thing with Paul Way in 1983. This time, it would be no surprise if Olazabal’s only rookie Nicolas Colsaerts pairs up with Paul Lawrie, the oldest player in Europe’s team.

Father figure: Ballesteros (left) helped Olazabal (right) through his early Ryder Cup experiences

Father figure: Ballesteros (left) helped Olazabal (right) through his early Ryder Cup experiences

Davis Love has more of a problem in this
regard, with four rookies. But he will solve at least one of his
conundrums by asking Phil Mickelson to show Keegan Bradley the ropes.

Personality

Putting together two similar types can work, as McDowell and Poulter showed at Valhalla in 2008. McDowell ended up with stiffness in his shoulder, he had been high-fiving his playing partner so much.

But some of the great Ryder Cup partnerships have been an ideal blend of a quiet man and an excitable sort, like Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia. ‘We’ve had occasions where Sergio has got me fired up and others where I’ve had to calm him down,’ says Donald of their chemistry.

Or an analytical mind and someone who plays off the cuff, like Gardner Dickinson and Arnold Palmer, America’s most successful partnership of all. Or Langer-Sandy Lyle and Faldo-Woosnam in 1987, or McDowell-McIlroy and Steve Stricker-Tiger Woods from more recent times.

The analyst draws comfort from playing with someone who can pull off shots he can only dream about. The flair merchant likes someone who can cover his back when his daring does not pay off.

Odd couple: Woosnam (left) and Faldo (right) back in 1987

Odd couple: Woosnam (left) and Faldo (right) back in 1987

Play To Strengths

At Valhalla, Europe’s captain Faldo was guilty of trying to reinvent the wheel. Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey are two wonderfully talented ball strikers with a flair for making birdies, but are also prone to bouts of wildness.

You never do what Faldo did then, and play them together in foursomes rather than fourballs.Foursomes is all about keeping the ball in play and seizing on the mistakes of your opponents. It appeals to the steady eddies, the Luke Donalds, the Frankie Molinaris and the Jim Furyks.

Fourballs is all about making things happen and favours the men who routinely make five birdies every round, like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and McIlroy. A great foursomes partnership is something like Woods and Stricker.

The former is a wonderful iron player who will put you 15ft from the flag all day, while Stricker the demon putter will roll in more than his share of putts.

At fourballs, Watson and Johnson could prove a potent pairing based on the principle that the odd bogey will be but a foothill when placed against their mountain of birdies.

Fred Couples wins Senior Open at Turnberry

Freddie finishes in style to see off Langer and clinch Senior Open at Turnberry

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UPDATED:

20:33 GMT, 29 July 2012

A three-under-par 67 earned Fred Couples a two-shot victory at the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry.

The 52-year-old American, who trailed overnight leader Bernhard Langer by one stroke heading into the final round, closed with back-to-back birdies to secure the win.

Couples' compatriot Gary Hallberg, the 36-hole leader, finished two shots back in second after carding 66 on a windy and testing Ailsa Course.

King of Turnberry: Fred Couples celebrates winning the Senior Open

King of Turnberry: Fred Couples celebrates winning the Senior Open

Winning putt: Couples on the 18th green

Winning putt: Couples on the 18th green

'It was a very fun day,' Couples told the European Tour's website. 'Being paired with Bernhard, you've got to play great and for a long time there, we were neck and neck.

'But for me I felt like I was hitting the ball very strong, very solid, and I was really lucky that it didn't rain because I'm not very good in the rain!

'That was a big birdie on 17 to make 18 play easier and then when I hit the last putt, the hole got in the way and I won by two.

'I'm very happy and excited to have won this.'

English duo Barry Lane and Carl Mason ended the tournament tied for third place alongside American Dick Mast, with the trio finishing on four under par.

Langer, however, could only a card a round of 75 and had to settle for a share of sixth place.

Joel Sjoholm leads BMW International Open in Cologne

Sjoholm takes halfway lead in Cologne as Chilean-born Swede guns for first European Tour title

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UPDATED:

18:05 GMT, 22 June 2012

Chilean-born Joel Sjoholm, adopted by a Swedish couple when three months old, is the halfway leader at the BMW International Open in Cologne.

Sjoholm, dressed in his now customary plus-fours, eagled both the 577-yard 16th and 546-yard third for a superb 66 in the windy conditions at Gut Larchenhof.

A closing birdie took the 26-year-old, 306th in the world and chasing his first European Tour win, to 11 under par. He enters the third round two ahead of Ireland's Paul McGinley, English pair Chris Wood and Danny Willett and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti.

In the driving seat: Chilean-born Sjoholm leads in Cologne

In the driving seat: Chilean-born Sjoholm leads in Cologne

Local favourite Martin Kaymer, at 13th the highest-ranked player in the field, missed the cut, but 54-year-old compatriot Bernhard Langer shot 67 and at five under is not out of the hunt yet.

Swede Sjoholm, with a best finish on the circuit of third in Sicily last year, followed his first eagle with back-to-back bogeys.

But it was a different tale after the second one. He added birdies on the fifth and ninth to go clear in the race for a first prize of just under 270,000.

All smiles: Sjoholm is gunning for his first Tour title

All smiles: Sjoholm is gunning for his first Tour title

McGinley, now 45 and front-runner to captain Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, has not won for seven years but his career appears to be on the rise again.

He finished seventh in Korea in April, but on his last start in Wales three weeks ago produced a closing 65 for sixth place.

The Dubliner began his 518th Tour event with another 65 and then added a 70 like Wood and Willett.

'It was much tougher – a real good test of golf,' McGinley said.

'You had to work the ball and it's very important to keep it on the fairways.'

He had an eagle on his card for the second day running, making a 20-foot putt at the third before finding the target as well with a 20-foot birdie attempt three holes later.

Former amateur internationals Wood and Willett have yet to register their first victories.

Wood is best known for finishing fifth in the 2008 Open as an amateur and then coming third a year later at Turnberry, while Willett was a team-mate of Rory McIlroy in the 2007 Walker Cup – against an American side that included new US Open champion Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson.

Zanotti had shared the first-round lead with Marcus Fraser, but managed only a 71 while the Australian fell five behind with a 74.

Sjoholm's eagles were far from routine. First he chipped in from heavy rough and then he pitched in from almost 100 yards.

'Of course it's going to be a new situation for me, but I've watched a lot of the Euro Cup and have seen what happens after 45 minutes,' said the Chelsea fan.

'I'm just enjoying it so much and am not thinking too much about it, but of course I want to be a winner.'

Top gear: Marshall, who won a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe with a hole-in-one

Top gear: Marshall, who won a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe with a hole-in-one

Sergio Garcia's 67 lifted him into a share of 13th on six under alongside, among others, Fraser and England's Andrew Marshall, who won a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe with a hole-in-one at the 215-yard 17th.

Kaymer three-putted for bogey there and missed out by a single shot like Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal, while Paul Casey's latest return from injury saw him make yet another early exit.

Rounds of 76 and 74 by the former world number three gave him a six over total, seven strokes too many to survive.

He has made only one cut since dislocating his shoulder snowboarding in Colorado on Christmas Eve and is down to 60th in the rankings.

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss set for 100th opening partnership

100 not out! Cook and Strauss set to hit a rare century in Abu Dhabi

The England captain and the man destined to replace him rack up a special century on Wednesday knowing they can spearhead their team’s rescue act with another three-figure stand.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook become only the fourth opening pair to complete 100 innings together in Test cricket when they step out at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here with England’s chances of coming from behind resting largely in their hands.

A good start to the second Test against Pakistan would go a long way to convincing England there really are no demons in Saeed Ajmal’s bowling action nor in what looks like a belter of a pitch.

Mirror image: Strauss (right) and Cook could not be more alike as players

Mirror image: Strauss (right) and Cook could not be more alike as players

Cook and Strauss by numbers…

49.5% of the time Strauss is first man out; it’s Cook 48.5% of the time (they’ve been not out twice).

It’s 3 Tests since their last century stand – 186 v India at Edgbaston, Aug 10, 2011

If opposites attract then Strauss and Cook have no place in following in the footsteps of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, of West Indies, Sri Lanka’s Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, and Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer, of Australia.

The left-handers could not be more alike. They both prefer workmanlike accumulation to aggressive flair and are both equable and calm of temperament, qualities which should serve them well when the heat is on in a match that England cannot afford to lose.

The only difference is that Strauss desperately needs a score, both to convince he retains his powers ahead of his 35th birthday and to ensure England do not stumble at the first hurdle in their quest to conquer the final frontier of Asia.

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‘I’ve only just found out it is our 100th time,’ said Cook, whose relentless run of form came to an abrupt halt in Dubai with two uncharacteristic errors. ‘We’ve got to know each other really well, especially as our games are so similar.

‘Even today in training, when we were batting in pairs, Steven Finn was bowling it across us and we both knew where we were trying to score. We just had a little word with each other, like we do in the middle. We only ever really talk about boring things.’

Brains trust: The pair watch on as England collapse in Dubai

Brains trust: The pair watch on as England collapse in Dubai

Cook has already become the England one-day captain and will eventually succeed Strauss at the helm of the Test team. The only question is when. The captain has the remaining two Tests here and the two-match series in Sri Lanka to record the three-figure score that would propel him towards his ambition of leading England in two more Ashes series.

‘I actually haven’t seen him hit the ball better for quite a long time,’ said Cook in support of his partner. ‘When you watch him he’s moving as well as he’s ever moved. I’m not sure why he’s not got a hundred since Brisbane. We all know about the ups and downs of form, but he’s a world-class player and has led his team brilliantly since 2009. He’s a major part of this team and I think runs are just around the corner.’

It would be nice for England if that corner is turned here in the more understated, less ostentatious and richer of the two United Arab Emirates staging this series. Admission will be free in Abu Dhabi in a bid to attract more people to what has become one of the most crucial matches of Strauss’s reign.

Matter of time: Cook is confident Strauss will find his form again soon

Matter of time: Cook is confident Strauss will find his form again soon

Conditions should be in his favour. In the two Tests staged here, now the unlikely home of the curtain-raiser to the English season between MCC and the champion county, there has been only one innings of fewer than 400 runs. It could be England need to hang in for a draw here before throwing everything at Pakistan back in Dubai in the final Test.

Perhaps throwing is the wrong word. The controversy over Ajmal’s action rumbles on, not least because England refuse to say they have no issue with it and are instead letting everyone read between the lines.

Since Strauss said England had no complaints about the mystery spinner’s doosra in the aftermath of their 10-wicket defeat the party line has changed. Andy Flower is not the sort to say something he does not mean and made it clear he has his doubts by refusing to back Ajmal on Friday.

Then Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior followed suit, saying it is up to the ICC to decide if Ajmal is legal, not them. In other words, England seem to have concerns and are waiting for the umpires to concur.

Rare failure: Cook was dismissed cheaply in both innings in Dubai

Rare failure: Cook was dismissed cheaply in both innings in Dubai

Probable teams:

PAKISTAN: Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (wkt), Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan.

ENGLAND: Strauss (capt), Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan, Prior (wkt), Broad, Swann, Tremlett or Onions, Anderson.

Umpires: Steve Davis and Bruce Oxenford (both Aus).

TV umpire: Billy Bowden (NZ).

Referee: Javagal Srinath (Ind).

TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am.

Radio: 5 Live Sports Extra 5.45am.

Billy Bowden was the umpire when Ajmal was reported for having a questionable action in 2009 but the Kiwi official has made no such complaint this time, and Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell said nobody queried Ajmal officially or otherwise during his time in county cricket.

The bottom line is England need to forget about Ajmal’s action and concentrate on reading him. It was fascinating to see Mushtaq Ahmed, a leg-spinner of some renown, throwing the ball at England’s batsmen in the nets on Monday in an attempt to replicate Ajmal while fielding coach Richard Halsall and physio Ben Langley, who can both supposedly mimic Ajmal’s doosra, were also recruited in practice.

Cook said: ‘Our stats against spin are not as bad as everyone keeps saying but we know we have to handle him better.’

England will not change the balance of their side and only if the pitch has markedly changed in nature will Monty Panesar be considered as one of four specialist bowlers.

Graham Onions may be preferred to a rusty Chris Tremlett but do not be surprised if England pick the same team.