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Top 10 Ryder Cup Moments
Last updated: 27th September 2012
As the United States and Europe prepare to do battle at Medinah Country Club, we pick out the best moments from previous Ryder Cups.
10. Europe Takes A Pounding
The best contests are always the ones that go right down to the wire, that make your palms sweat and your heart pound.
But you also have to appreciate the moments of utter dominance, and the 1981 Ryder Cup at Walton Heath was certainly that.
Europe were without Seve Ballesteros, who had been suspended for a disciplinary issue on the European Tour, while the United States team had won 36 major championships between them.
The result was a mismatch, as the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw handed out an 18 ½-9 ½ thrashing - the heaviest defeat Europe have suffered in the competition.
9. Monty Seals His Legacy
Forever the bridesmaid in the Majors, Colin Montgomerie will always be remembered as one of the Ryder Cup greats.
A win-lose-draw record of 20-9-7 gives him a points tally of 23.5 - just 1.5 behind Nick Faldo's record, but Montgomery's singles record is even more impressive.
He went into the 2004 Ryder Cup with an eight-match unbeaten run in singles matches, and he confirmed his place in history by defeating David Toms 2&1.
That contributed to Europe's biggest ever victory over the USA, as they won 18 ½-9 ½ at Bloomfield Hills in Michigan.
8. Giant Killers
The last time the US won a Ryder Cup on European soil was 1993, and it was a victory earned very much by the lesser-known members of the team.
Europe led the US by a healthy 7 ½-4 ½ going into the fourballs on Saturday afternoon, and looked good to reclaim the trophy. Chip Beck and John Cook were up against Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie, two players who would become the Ryder Cup's most successful in history, so another European point looked a certainty from the first pairing.
Instead Beck and Cook created one of the biggest upsets in the tournament's history, winning 2-up to turn the whole weekend around. The US won three of the next four matches, and went on to take 7 ½ of the 12 singles points on Sunday to retain the trophy with a 15 to 13 victory.
7. A Moral Triumph
The 1999 Ryder Cup is known as the most acrimonious in history (see below), yet there was also a moment of incredible grace which teams would do well to remember in the heat of a Ryder Cup weekend.
Payne Stewart was a fine golfer, but he was also a magnificent human being who was sadly just a month from a tragic death during the tournament.
Having tussled with Colin Montgomery throughout Sunday afternoon, Payne was perturbed by the unnecessary jeers and catcalls that Montgomery had endured throughout the contest.
A tough competitor, Payne was moved to concede his singles match to Montgomery on the final hole after the US had clinched victory.
6. Mind Games In '91
Animosity may be prevalent at the Ryder Cup, but rarely has it spilled over into actual claims of cheating.
In that respect the Friday match-ups in 1991 were about as feisty as you get, as Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal took on the United States team of Paul Azinger and Chip Beack. Ballesteros and Azinger had previous, from their contests two years earlier, and things got rather feisty as the day wore on.
According to Beck, Ballesteros began timing his coughs to coincide with his backswing. Then just as Beck was considering an official complaint, Ballesteros reported the Americans to a referee, claiming they had violated the one-ball rule, which stated that teammates in the alternate-shot format must use the same type ball on each hole.
Azinger admitted to having done it on the seventh hole, Ballesteros suggested it had happened a couple of times, and although Azinger and Beck didn't incur a penalty because the inadvertent violation had not been caught, the conversation continued for several holes after that.
"They accomplished their goal: They got us upset," Beck said later. "I respect Seve, he'd always been a true sportsman toward me. But in U.S.-Europe competition . . . well, the timing on his coughs was impressive."
Europe won both the morning and afternoon matches.
5. The Ryder Cup's Second Tie
There have only ever been two ties in the history of the tournament, and the most recent came in dramatic circumstances at the Belfry in 1989.
The 18th hole arguably proved to be the difference between a US victory and a tie, even though it was the Americans who won the last four singles matches to draw level. Europe retained the Cup, but there was no shortage of drama.
Payne Stewart and Mark Calcavecchia tried to drive the green both tried to drive the green at 18, but both ended up short in the water and would go on to lose their singles matches.
Fred Couples wasn't quite so ambitious, but still plopped his second shot to lose to Christy O'Connor Jnr. José Maria Cańizares' victory over Ken Green meant that Europe couldn't lose, but Mark McCumber, Tom Watson, Lanny Wadkins and Curtis Strange all secured points for the US to leave it 14 apiece at the end of the weekend.
4. The Greatest Ever?
If that sounded pretty dramatic, how about the first ever tie in the Ryder Cup, when 18 of the 32 matches went to the last green?
Even more impressively, it went down to the very last singles match, between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, who went into the final hole all square.
The par-5 18th at Royal Brikdale saw both players on the green in two, before Nicklaus ran his eagle putt five feet past the hole and Jacklin left his two fee short. Nicklaus sank his birdie, then made one of the great sporting gestures when he picked up Jacklin's ball and said: "I don't think you would have missed that Tony, but I didn't want to give you the chance."
The act became known as 'the concession', which became the name of a golf course in Florida which the two players co-designed.
3. Torrance Turns The Tide
For 24 years between 1959 and 1983, the United States dominated the Ryder Cup, winning or retaining the trophy each time.
Something big was required to break the stranglehold built up over two and a half decades, and in 1985 Sam Torrance provided it in emphatic fashion at the Belfry.
Torrance went into the final hole of his singles match against Andy North all square, and made the green in two. North, meanwhile, hit his drive into the lake and made the green in four.
Torrance just needed to two-putt to put Europe into an unassailable lead, but added an exclamation mark to his victory when he drained an 18-foot birdie putt before raising his arms in the air and shedding a tear.
2. Joy And Acrimony
Some might say that this was the Ryder Cup's lowest moment, but you could equally argue that it was a high point which added extra spice to the competition and truly put it on the map.
It became known as the Battle of Brookline, and Europe went into the final day with a 10-6 lead and one hand on the Cup.
However the Americans rallied in front of a vociferous crowd, who would later be described as "golf hooligans", to take the first six singles matches and reclaim the lead.
It was the largest come-from-behind victory in Ryder Cup history, but it would be tainted by the over-zealous celebrations of both the American fans and players.
The US team were widely criticised for their conduct on the 17th green when Justin Leonard sank a long putt and ran off the green to celebrate with his captain and teammates. While the putt had assured the US of at least a halve in the match and thus the trophy, the match was not over and José María Olazábal stood over his ball for seven minutes waiting for silence while the American crowd and players around him continued to go ballistic.
Olazábal would later describe them as "ugly scenes", and Leonard would later admit that he was at fault for his poor etiquette and lack of sportsmanship. A new type of enmity in the Ryder Cup was born, even if that level has not been achieved since.
1. Darren Clarke's Cup
Through all the years of drama, no personal moment has touched as many hearts as Darren Clarke's in 2006. The Ryder Cup may be about rivalry and passion, but it's not the only way that memories are created.
Clarke had lost his wife to cancer just a few months before the Ryder Cup was held in his native Ireland for the very first time, but decided to play regardless.
The ovation he received on the first tee would have sent most men into an emotional spiral in which sport was of no consequence, yet Clarke somehow managed to channel the energy into an inspiring performance that saw him win all three of his matches.
Europe dominated the weekend, winning 18 ½-9 1/2, yet the images of an emotional Clarke made for some of the Ryder Cup's finest moments.
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