Members of the NCG team take time out to recall their most special moments from lives steeped in golf. Next up, it's Mark Townsend
My favourite golfing memory, and one that I didn’t write about until at least 15 years later, came about on a drizzly Monday evening at the end of September in 1987. There was no golf played but it had more of a lasting effect on me than anything else in any sport.
The first part of the evening involved doubting whether we were even in the right place as a school friend and I watched a variety of cleaners go about their business in one of Heathrow’s terminals.
We were the first and only ones there and the sole reason was a throwaway comment from Howard Clark, having just dusted off Dan Pohl in the singles, that they would be flying back the following day. The Yorkshireman was part of the 1987 Ryder Cup team who had just put on the most spectacular of performances in Ohio and the two of us had spent every waking hour since Friday watching every shot, either live or on re-runs, to fill time before the matches got going again.
The second part of our evening involved comfortably the greatest hour of my life. Within too long maybe 300 middle-aged males were all reassuringly in the same spot as us to welcome back a trophy that had never returned from an overseas match.
Being the first ones there we were in prime position to meet and greet our 12 heroes. Much like the singles order the previous day Ian Woosnam was first out and, from there, a wave of players arrived to deafening cheers and rounds and rounds of ‘Ee aye addio, we won the cup’. Stand-out moments included Sandy Lyle’s badge on his blazer getting ripped, something that didn’t seem to bother him, the place going even more nuts when Eamonn Darcy arrived and then bear hugging Sam Torrance.
Even at the age of 49 I still well up at the sight of the last two men to come through; Tony Jacklin and Seve Ballesteros and, between them, the Ryder Cup. One had had to persuade the other to even play in the matches, now they had led the way in Europe claiming victory for the first time in the States.
Seve had holed the winning putt and the grin, 24 hours later, was even wider stood in this little corner of West London.
I’ve been lucky enough, now 33 years on, to have spoken to the majority of that team and I’ll always bring up the matches and then that Monday night. I’ll wonder if I’ve over-egged things in my mind as to quite how incredible that hour was but, to a man, they will all put my mind at rest.
As captain Jacklin recalls: “I remember that reception very well, nothing had happened in golf that would create that sort of emotion in the UK. The Americans had bigger tournaments, more money, bigger everything. It was David and Goliath. It was a joyous time, for us it was everything.”
Do you have any stand-out memories from following the Ryder Cup heroes? Maybe you were there at Heathrow with me that night? Let me know in the comments below, or you can tweet me.
- More in this series: ‘Following Tiger down deserted Muirfield fairways will never be beaten’
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