To celebrate this month’s Ryder Cup, the Golf Care blog will feature a series of Ryder Cup stories. First up is a look at some of the unlikely heroes of the competition.
Over the years some of the world’s best have competed in the Ryder Cup. But, such is the nature of the trans-Atlantic competition; it’s not always superstars to the fore. Through almost 90 years of Ryder Cup matches, there have been a number of unlikely heroes, players who’ve performed beyond expectation, or held their nerve at the crucial moment. Here are some examples:
In a team featuring Garcia, Westwood, Montgomerie and Langer, McGinley wasn’t one of Europe’s stars. But on Sunday afternoon it was the diminutive Irishman who faced a putt to halve with Jim Furyk and win the Cup for Europe. He rolled it in and leapt skywards with arms aloft.
Although it was Monty who secured the winning half point for Seve’s men, the Italian was a revelation at Valderrama. Playing with Olly, he won two points in the pairs’ matches then beat Tiger Woods 4&2 in the singles.
Gilford had a torrid time in his 1991 Cup debut, so he could have justifiably been feeling extra nerves at Oak Hill. But he secured three points from four, including a crucial singles win against Brad Faxon.
Playing Jay Haas in the singles, the fate of the Cup fell to the inexperienced Irishman. Three up with three to play, he lost the 16th and 17th. On the last he was visibly nervous, but did enough to cross the line and win the Cup for Europe.
Christy O’Connor Jnr
Few gave O’Connor much of a chance against talented American Fred Couples, but they came to the 18th all-square. Both found the fairway, Couples almost 100 yards further up. O’Connor fired a 2-iron from 230 yards to within three feet of the hole. The shot destroyed Couples who semi-shanked his second and failed to get up-and-down.
In the first defeat for the U.S since 1957, the Spaniard was a rock for Europe. He won three of four matches with Seve then went out first in the singles, beat Lanny Wadkins by 3&1 and laid the foundation for Europe’s first win.
In a team full of superstars, Pott was last qualifier for the U.S. team. But he won four points from four matches and was a key factor in the American demolition job at the Champions Golf Club.
Played one of the great singles matches in Cup history against Denny Shute. It went to the last and everything rested on their game – the score tied at 5.5. Easterbrook holed a three-footer on the last to win his match and the Cup.