With the Ryder Cup soon to be underway in Wisconsin on Friday, we thought we would take a look at the most memorable moments over the last couple of decades in the most prestigious event in professional team golf.
Number 5 - McGinley in the water
The 2002 edition at the Belfry is our first stop down memory lane with a sensational moment for Team Europe and particularly, Irish golf fans. Paul McGinley holing the crucial putt, sending the crowd into raptures, was one thing but a few minutes later, no one watching will forget him ‘jumping’ into the water hazard nearby.
McGinley has since told media that it wasn’t exactly his choice as a number of his teammates led by Darren Clarke (who we will see later on in the list) had ‘strongly encouraged’ him to get in the drink.
Whatever the situation, the image of a wet McGinley drooped in the Irish flag will live long in the memory.
Number 4 - Reed vs Rory
For this one we head across the pond to Hazeltine in Minnesota for the 2016 event. Off the back of three US defeats, a reaction was required. The US team with fresher faces such as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed performed well and the US were deserved winners 17 to 11.
The particular moment in question came on singles Sunday where a potential Medinah-style comeback was still possible. The US team showed their class and did not let Europe gain momentum.
This is optimised by the 8th hole in the Rory McIlroy vs Patrick Reed bout. Both men gave themselves outside birdie chances. Rory was on the opposite side of the green to the hole with a 60 foot putt, whereas Reed was closer but on the slight rough at the edge of the green.
Rory stepped up first and as the ball inched closer and closer to the whole spectators commentators and Rory himself watched in awe. It dropped in and McIlroy’s reaction did not disappoint, rousing the American crowd and pumping his fists. A truly amazing putt.
Reed stepped up calmly and stroked home his tricky 20 footer as if it was a tap in and waggled his finger in the Northern Irishman’s direction. This exemplified the day, the Europeans trying to get a foot in the door and the Americans simply slamming it shut.
Number 3 - Darren Clarke’s first tee shot at the K Club
Ahead of the 2006 Ryder Cup, Darren Clarke had accepted a captain’s pick despite sadly losing his wife to cancer just 6 weeks prior. His wife, Heather, had made it clear to him that if he got the opportunity, he must not turn it down.
Clarke’s performance at the 2006 iteration was one of the best in recent memory. He won all three of the ties he was involved in and his singles victory was the winning point to get Europe over the line at the K-Club in Ireland.
The most memorable moment, however, has to be when Clarke walked up to the first tee for the first time partnering Lee Westwood on Friday afternoon. The Irish crowd gave Clarke a hero’s welcome and with Westwood and the caddies with tears in their eyes, Clarke summoned the emotional strength to stay composed and hit a lovely first tee down the centre of the fairway to incredible applause.
Number 2 - Mickelson’s ‘honest’ interview
In at 2, is actually a moment away from the course after the last tee off and the last ball had been holed in 2014. After a third loss on the trot, Phil Mickelson openly criticised captain, Tom Watson’s strategy.
He claimed his experience in 2008, when the US took the trophy, was a far better strategy and he didn’t know why the Americans strayed from it for the last three editions. This involved the US team being split into pods of around 4 which each had a vice-captain in charge of and they would be able to get closer and know each other's game better than a whole 12. Watson admitted after, that he mixed and matched more to adapt to how the event was going.
Whilst his comments were potentially fair, voicing them in a public forum like a press conference was certainly unprecedented and will live long in the memory.
Number 1 - Miracle in Medinah
Perhaps a little European bias is involved here, but for number 1, we could look no further than 2012. Personally, the picture of Ian Poulter pumping his fist in elation is etched into my head forever.
The home team had won every Ryder Cup since 2004 before a European team containing 4 of the top 5 ranked players in the world turned up at Medinah Country Club in Illinois. The US team themselves had no shortage of talent with 11 of their 12 inside the top 20.
At the end of the Saturday, the Americans had a 10-6 lead, meaning the Europeans would have to win 8 of the 12 singles matches on Sunday.
What transpired was magical. Europe won the first 4 matches of the day levelling the score up with Luke Donald, then veteran Scotsman Paul Lawrie, world number 1, McIlroy and the match play-man, Poulter each picking up points. Further wins from Rose, Westwood and Garcia, meant one more point was required.
The German, Martin Kaymer rolled in a 3 yard putt to finish Steve Stricker and the Americans off to spark scenes of utter jubilation, the comeback had been completed, the miracle of Medinah etched into the history books.
Watching that winning putt from Kaymer again, gave me goose bumps all over again 9 years later and we can’t wait for this year's edition of this glorious competition.
Let us know your favourite moments in the comments sections or on our socials. Was our list right, or would you make changes? We’d love to hear from you!