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Top 10 Ryder Cup Moments

8 September 2023

Since the Ryder Cup became Europe vs US in 1979, it has developed into one of the most intense rivalries in sport. Since 1979 the Ryder Cup has been played 21 times, with Europe winning 11 times, the Americans 9 times, and a tie (with Europe retaining the Ryder Cup) in 1989. At the end of September hostilities are renewed with Italy hosting the event for the first time. Europe have not lost a home tie since 1993.

RL360 looks back on ten moments that best capture the spirit and drama of this great event.....


1) The concession - Birkdale, 1969 In the 1960s the Ryder Cup had become something of an American procession but the GB & Ireland team, led by newly crowned US Open Champion Tony Jacklin, entered the last hole of the final match all square. Jacklin faced a 6 foot putt to halve the match and gain an honourable draw for the team. As Jacklin sized up his putt, Nicklaus held out has hand, conceding the putt in one of the great sporting gestures.


2) The miracle of Medinah - Chicago, 2012 At one stage 10-4 down, the much fancied European team were reeling from a barrage of brilliant American putting. They were inspired to one of the greatest sporting comebacks by Ian Poulter's five closing birdies to snatch a vital point in the closing Saturday afternoon fourballs. An unbelievably tense victory was secured by German Martin Kaymer's nerveless 6 footer on the 18th green to beat Steve Stricker.

3) Torrance ends Europe's 28 year famine - The Belfry, 1985 Since European players were added to the GB & Ireland team in 1979, the European team were getting closer and closer to a first win since 1957. It almost happened in 1983. In 1985 the Europeans won comfortably, 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 . The winning putt was holed by popular Scottish golfer Sam Torrance on the Belfry's infamous closing hole.

4) One putt to rule them all - Kiawah Island, 1991 If you could have chosen someone to hole a tricky 6 footer to retain the Ryder Cup, few would have chosen anyone other than ice cool German Bernhard Langer. The most tense finish in the match's history came down to this one putt. Langer's putt slipped by - cue American hollering and European agony. Langer showed his mental resilience by winning the US Masters the following Spring.

5) Darren's tears - K Club, 2006 Many questioned the wisdom of Darren Clarke playing just 6 weeks after he had lost his wife, Heather, to cancer. No one questioned his bravery. Playing the first hole in the first match on the first morning, Clarke set the tone with a brilliant birdie and an emotional Irish crowd cheered Europe onto a comprehensive victory.

6) European invasion - Muirfield Village 1987 A strong American team led by captain Jack Nicklaus on a course he had personally designed was meant to exact revenge on the upstart Europeans who had inflicted the first American defeat since 1957 2 years earlier. A vibrant European team, including the inspirational Spaniards Ballesteros and Olazabel - in tandem for the first time - had other ideas. Who can forget Olazabel's dance on the final green as the Europeans wrapped up a 15 - 13 victory.

7) The battle of Brookline - Brookline, 1999 Maybe the most controversial moment in the match's history. America had fought back from 10-6 and all eyes were on Justin Leonard's crucial match with Olazabal, which was all square on the 17th green. Leonard then holed a monster putt and - despite Olazabal still having his own 25-footer for the half - the US team and their wives invaded the green. The Spaniard missed his putt and the US win was greeted by euphoria and anger.

8) Resurgent America crush Europe - Whistling Straits 2021 The youngest ever US team, also containing 8 of the world’s top 10 ranked players, put on a brutal display of long-hitting and nerveless putting to steam-roller Europe 19-9. It was the largest margin of victory in the Ryder Cup since 1967. The Europeans had no answer to the Americans who, buoyed on by a partisan home crowd, never seemed to miss a putt. Only Jon Rahm, in his first Ryder Cup, and Sergio Garcia (in probably his last) were able to provide much resistance to the American domination.

9) Monty Magic - The Belfry, 2002 If USA 1981 were the finest team to grace the Ryder Cup, then Colin Montgomerie's performance in the 2002 Ryder Cup must be the greatest individual display. Monty played 5 matches at The Belfry and not once did he lose. But more than that, in none of those games - three in tandem with Bernhard Langer, one with Padraig Harrington - was he even a hole down at any point. 2 years later Monty sunk the winning putt to secure Ryder Cup immortality.

10) Seve inspires Europe - Valderama 1997 More than anyone the mercurial Spaniard reinvigorated the Ryder Cup and turned it into the compelling sporting rivalry it is today, with his passion and enthusiasm for the European cause. So it was fitting that the first Ryder Cup played on the European mainland was held at Ballesteros's Valderama Club in Spain, with Seve, seemingly everywhere on his golf buggy, captaining Europe to a narrow victory in the rain.