Ryder Cup 2010: 10 Memorable Moments in Tourney History

Kathy BissellCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2010

Ten Memorable Ryder Cup Moments

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    Walter Hagen, Captain of the 1927 US Ryder Cup team. Hagen captained US in the first six Ryder Cups and played on the first five, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935.
    Walter Hagen, Captain of the 1927 US Ryder Cup team. Hagen captained US in the first six Ryder Cups and played on the first five, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935.Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    The Ryder Cup came of age in the late 1980s when European players were added to those of Great Britain and Ireland, giving the "other side" additional talent, including Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, both of whom made historic contributions to the event.  It was a move that Jack Nicklaus, who had played Ryder Cup and captained  Ryder Cup teams, thought would add to the strength of the competition. Whether it was his idea or whether it was a case of emerging talent in continental Europe being recognized as formidable, the change made the contest closer than it had been since its inception in 1927.         

1969, Jack And Tony

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    1987:  Team Captains Tony Jacklin (left) of England and Jack Nicklaus (right) of the USA hold the trophy before the Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village in Ohio, USA. Europe won the event with a score of 15-13.  \ Mandatory Credit: David  Cannon/Allsport
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    In 1969, Jack Nicklaus come to the 18th hole all square with Tony Jacklin.  It was the last match of the Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale. They were tied in the match and the overall matches were tied.  The winning team would be determine by the outcome of their match.

    Nicklaus’ second shot landed four feet from the cup. Jacklin’s shot was well outside Nicklaus’, and he lagged his first putt to two feet and marked.  Nicklaus, a guy you’d want to putt for your life, rolled the short putt beyond the hole.  Had he made birdie, it would have given the US a victory. He did make the come back putt for par.

    Then, in a move than no one anticipated, Nicklaus picked his own ball out of the hole, paused, picked up Jacklin’s ball marker and conceded the putt and secured a tie.

    He supposedly said: “I don't think you would have missed that putt, but in these circumstances, I would never give you the opportunity.”

    It is said to be one of the best moments in golf sportsmanship.

1991 Irwin and Langer

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    Bernhard Langer and the putt that even Hale Irwin said no one should have to make.
    Bernhard Langer and the putt that even Hale Irwin said no one should have to make.David Cannon/Getty Images

    In 1991 at Kiawah Island, the Ryder Cup became known as The War by The Shore. That time period was after the Gulf War in Iraq when Saddam Hussein had stormed into Kuwait.  US Captain Dave Stockton took to wearing fatigue color hats with the Ryder Cup emblem.

    The US had lost the 1985 and 1987 matches and a tie in 1989 meant that the US had not held the Ryder Cup since 1983. The core of the European team, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam led by Tony Jacklin, was the reason.

    The 18th hole of the final match would decide it all. Hale Irwin was pitted against Bernhard Langer. Irwin’s tee shot bounced off the back of a PGA of America employee and back into the fairway to save the hole once. With both players on the green, Bernhard Langer had a six-to-seven footer, down hill for a 14-14 tie which would have kept the cup in Europe for another two years.  He missed. Hale Irwin made his up hill putt to tie.

    "I couldn't breathe, I couldn't swallow," Irwin said about the play on the final hole. "The sphincter factor was high."

1999 Justin's Putt

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    Leonard's putt goes in.
    Leonard's putt goes in.Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    In 1999 Justin Leonard made a long putt on the 17th green when it mattered.  Leonard had been 4-down to Olazabal with seven holes to play, but had come back to square the match, and the putt turned it to Leonard 1-up with one to play.  Too many people from the US side ran onto the green at that point, although according to many who were there, Olazabal’s line was not trampled.  It was poor sporstmanship, though.

    However, Olazabal came right back with fireworks of his own and made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to halve the match.  The halve gave the US the needed half point to win the cup back, 14 ½ to 13 1/2. 

    Sunday’s play by the US team  in 1999 was the largest comeback in Ryder Cup history.  

1983 Lanny Wadkins' Shot

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    1983 Ryder Cup Team -- can you name them?
    1983 Ryder Cup Team -- can you name them?Getty Images/Getty Images

    In 1983 on Sunday Lanny Wadkins was 1-down to Jose Maria Canizares on the 18th hole. His was the only match in dispute. Significantly,the team needed Wadkins to at least halve the hole to give them the victory. Wadkins. who never saw a pin he wouldn’t shoot at, hit a wedge shot to about a foot at the 18th. Jack Nicklaus, captain of the US team, ran out and kissed the divot.   

1979 Europe Joins Ryder Cup

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    Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, European stalwarts.
    Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, European stalwarts.David Cannon/Getty Images

    In 1979, additions made to the Great Britain and Ireland squad to include all of Europe would eventually change history.  That was the debut of Seve Ballesteros in Ryder Cup.  In 1981 Bernhard Langer was added and in 1983 both Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer were on the European roster.  Their play significantly changed the face of the competition for the next 20 years.

1985 Sam Torrance

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    Torrance does it for Europe
    Torrance does it for EuropeDavid Cannon/Getty Images

    In 1985 Sam Torrance brought Europe its first Ryder Cup trophy in 25 years when he made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, defeating Andy North.  North had put his tee shot into the water and was lying four on the green. Torrance didn’t need to make birdie, just to finish one better than North. When he made the putt, he raised his arms to the sky and cried.  

1987 Europe Wins In US For The First Time

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    Ballesteros turns the tide for Europe
    Ballesteros turns the tide for EuropeSimon Bruty/Getty Images

    In 1987 at Muirfield Village GC, Seve Ballesteros made a putt to keep the cup for Europe in a match against Curtis Strange.  During the singles play, Ben Crenshaw broke his putter hitting it against an inanimate object after six holes.  He putted with his 1-iron and sand wedge the rest of the round and ultimately lost the match to Eamonn Darcy. It was the first European victory on US soil in the Ryder Cup and back-to-back victories for the Euros.

1989 Europe Wins Three In a Row

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    Christie O'Connor, Jr wins his match against Fred Couples
    Christie O'Connor, Jr wins his match against Fred CouplesSimon Bruty/Getty Images

    In 1989 the two sides played to a tie for only the second time in history.  It meant Europe kept the cup again.  The 18th hole at The Belfry was key to the outcome as both Payne Stewart and Mark Calcavecchia hit into the water off the tee in their singles matches, which they both lost. Fred Couples suffered a similar fate on his second shot. In this case, for the US team, a tie was not like kissing anybody. The deciding match was Jose Maria Canizares against against Ken Green.

2004 Tiger and Phil

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    Tiger and Phil. The two best were just not best together.
    Tiger and Phil. The two best were just not best together.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    In 2004, Hal Sutton decided to give the public the pairing it had begged to see: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.  To say that they lacked team chemistry is an understatement. They were a disaster, a calamity, a made for TV motion picture disaster movie. It demonstrated that unless you play golf for a living, you’ve got no business telling a Ryder Cup captain who to play with whom.  On the other  hand, you have to give credit to the guys who rose to the occasion and beat them: Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke. 

1995 Europe Comes Back For Victory

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    Unhearlded Philip Walton made the team winning putt.
    Unhearlded Philip Walton made the team winning putt.Simon Bruty/Getty Images

    In 1995, the US looked like a mortal lock to win the Ryder Cup.  The team was up two points after the first two days of play with singles to go, typically the US strength. Enter fate and things that were not supposed to happen.  In a rematch of a previous US Open, Curtis Strange played Nick Faldo, but this time, Faldo won.  Ballesteros who said he was so off line that he cleaned out all the brush under shrubs for the members at Oak Hill, lost to Tom Lehman. Mark James trounced Jeff Maggert 4 & 3. Fred Couples and Ian Woosnam halved. Davis Love III beat Costantino Rocca.  David Guilford beat Brad Faxon. Colin Montgomerie did the same to  Ben Crenshaw. Sam Torrance bested Loren Roberts. And the score at the end of that match was 13 ½ Europe, 12 ½ US with two matches out and Mickelson ahead in his.  It came down to Philip Walton and Jay Haas,

    Haas was 3-down with three to play.  He holed out a bunker shot on the 16th, then won the 17th with a par. At the 18th, Haas popped his drive into the trees on the left side of the fairway.  He had to punch out.  His approach spun off the green. Haas failed to save par from a putt off the fringe of the green.  His bogey putt was short.  Philip Walton two-putted for bogey and the Ryder Cup victory.

    Europe serenaded by singing " Philip Walton, we love you!"