Quick 9: Greatest Ryder Cup shots
With just a year to go until Europe and the USA lock horns in Paris over three action-packed days, let’s remind ourselves of some of the jaw-dropping moments from the tournament’s history books.
Here, NCG’s James Broadhurst narrows down the greatest Ryder Cup shots to help whet the appetite ahead of next year’s spectacle from Le Golf National…
Lanny Wadkins, 1983, PGA National, Sunday singles, 18th hole
The final stages of the 1983 Ryder Cup singles from Florida couldn’t have been any closer.
With 10 matches complete and the score at 13-13, the outcome depended on the two singles matches remaining on the course, between José Maria Cañizares and Lanny Wadkins, and Bernard Gallacher and Tom Watson.
A point down with one hole to play, Wadkins hit a deft chip shot on the 18th to within mere inches of the pin. His half-point is generally credited as the pivotal moment in the USA’s 14 1/2 – 13 1/2 victory.
Christy O’Connor Jnr, 1989, The Belfry, Sunday Singles, 18th hole
Christy O’Connor Jnr’s spectacular 2-iron at the 1989 Ryder Cup was undoubtedly the biggest shot of the Irishman’s career.
Up against Fred Couples in the singles, 41-year-old O’Connor, a surprise pick for me by captain Tony Jacklin, fired a remarkable shot over the water and to within four-foot of the pin to win the match 1-up.
It was O’Connor’s first ever Ryder Cup point and proved significant in Europe’s retention of the cup with a 14-14 scoreline.
Justin Leonard, 1999, The Country Club, Sunday Singles, 17th hole
Is this the greatest clutch putt in Ryder Cup history?
It is certainly one of the most controversial.
The USA, trailing 10–6 heading into the final round, staged a remarkable comeback on the Sunday and Leonard needed just half a point in his match against Jose Maria Olazabal to claim victory for the USA.
On the 17th and with the match all-square, 27-year-old Leonard hammered home a 45-foot putt. But, in what was viewed by many as an act of bad sportsmanship, several American players and their partners ran onto the green and mobbed Leonard, forgetting that Olazabal still had a putt to keep the match alive.
But Olazabal’s miss meant that Leonard wad assured of a half-point and guaranteed America the win.
Paul Azinger, 2002, The Belfry, Sunday Singles, 18th
Although, Europe eventually swept to a 15 1/2 – 12 1/2 win on the Brabazon course, Paul Azinger did give the Americans something to smile about on the final day.
Azinger was 1-down against Niclas Fasth with just one to play, but the American produced one of the greatest bunker shots in Ryder Cup history to halve the match and stop Europe, although only temporarily, from winning the Ryder Cup at that moment.
Paul Casey, 2006, K Club, Saturday foursomes, 14th hole
Paul Casey picked a timely moment to fire his first ever ace when he knocked in a hole-in-one at the 2006 Ryder Cup.
Casey and partner David Howell were in cruise control in their foursomes match against Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson, and Casey’s 213-yard 4-iron sealed a walk-off 5&4 victory.
Jeff Overton, 2010, Celtic Manor, Saturday/Sunday fourball, 8th hole
Sit back and admire this stunning eagle shot from America’s Jeff Overton. Then, turn your nose up in disgust as he and partner Bubba Watson overdo their celebration in slightly nauseating fashion.
The pair eventually lost out to Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jiménez.
Justin Rose, 2012, Medinah, Sunday singles, 17th hole
There can be no downplaying the significance of Justin Rose’s 50-foot putt at the 17th to draw level with Phil Mickelson with one hole to play.
Mickelson would then birdie the 18th to win 1-up and without that vital turnaround, there would have been no Miracle at Medinah.
Rose also credits that putt with providing him with the confidence to win the US Open less than a year later.
“Looking back that was a huge step for me in my progression to major champion,” he said. “After Medinah, pretty much any situation I’m in now I can tell myself I’ve done it, I can believe I can do it now. That win over Phil was a big part of the last couple of years and when I watch then highlights now it seems surreal.”
Jamie Donaldson, 2014, Gleneagles, Sunday singles, 15th hole
Jamie Donaldson’s 146-yard wedge to the 15th green was a shot worthy of winning any game of golf, let alone the biggest team event on the calendar.
The Welshman trounced Keegan Bradley 5&3 as Europe beat the Americans 16 1/2 – 11 1/2.
You can also watch Donaldson recreate that special moment here.
Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, 2016, Hazeltine, Sunday singles, 8th
It will go down as one of the greatest singles battles in Ryder Cup history. Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy treated the world to some unbelievable shots as their passion was on show for all to see.
Reed would eventually clinch a confidence-boosting 1-up victory as Team USA dominated in Hazeltine.
But it was this putting duel on the 8th hole that will live longest in the memory…