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Ryder Cup: Six of the best from Europe

The Ryder Cup has provided lots of memorable moments and we look at some of Europe’s finest moments.

Irish golfers, north and south, have played a significant role in Europe's Ryder Cup performances.
Irish golfers, north and south, have played a significant role in Europe's Ryder Cup performances.
Image: Alastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

THE LAST SEVENTEEN years has seen Europe dominate the United States in the Ryder Cup as never before; winning six out of eight times including the last matchup at Celtic Manor, Wales.

Here is a look at the key moments of those editions:

1995 – Oak Hill, Rochester, New York
Europe 14 .5 – United States 13.5

The Americans were hot favourites to make it a hat-trick of wins and they looked to be well on their way after taking a two point lead after two days. But the singles, traditionally the US strength, did not go according to plan as the euphoric Europeans struck back against the odds.

Seve Ballesteros lost the opening singles but then wins for Mark James, Howard Clark, David Gilford, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance turned the tide. Nick Faldo then scored an emotional win over Curtis Strange and in one of the most exciting finishes ever, rookie Philip Walton survived a late bout of nerves to grab the winning point over Jay Haas.

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1997 – Valderrama, Spain
Europe 14 .5 – United States 13.5

Seve Ballesteros was the first Spanish captain of the Ryder Cup team on the first occasion it had been held on continental Europe. Tiger Woods made his debut for the Americans. With wild weather causing disruptions, the Europeans grabbed a huge five points lead with just the singles to go. The US won three out of the first four of those, however, including Fred Couples with a record eight and seven thrashing of Ian Woosnam and Europe’s grasp on the trophy was being prised open.

Costantino Rocco, however, responded with a totally-unexpected four and two triumph over Woods and it was Bernhard Langer who ensured Europe retained the cup with a two and one victory over Brad Faxon. Colin Montgomerie shortly afterwards provided the extra lift needed to win the match outright halving his tie with Scott Hoch after conceding a 15-foot putt at the last.

1999 – Brookline, Massachusetts
United States 14.5 – Europe 13.5

If anyone thought Montgomerie’s fair-play would pay dividends two years later on US soil they were to be sorely disappointed in one of the most bad-tempered games of all time. With teenager Sergio Garcia leading the way Europe grabbed a 10-6 lead after the first two days. But European rookies Andrew Coltart, Jean Van de Velde and Jarmo Sandelin had yet to play and the Americans staged an amazing comeback.

The first seven singles all went to the home side and with emotions and at times decorum spilling over there were shameful scenes on the 17th hole when US players and officials charged onto the green to congratulate Justin Leonard who had just sunk a 45-foot putt that they thought ensured the halve needed for overall victory.

Except that opponent Jose Maria Olazabal still had a 25-footer of his own to come. When the mayhem died down, the Spaniard duly missed and the Americans had completed the biggest final day comeback ever.

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The crowd run onto the green to celebrate a US win despite the best effort of the officials.
(C) Jon Buckle/EMPICS Sport

2002 – The Belfry, England
Europe 15.5 – United States 12.5

Held over by a year after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the 2002 edition saw both sides strive to play down the rivalry and tensions that had exploded in Brookline. Under the canny guidance of Sam Torrance, and with Tiger Woods losing twice on the opening day, Europe stayed level at 8-8 going into the closing 12 singles.

The Americans were strong favourites, but inspired by journeyman Philip Price’s stunning win over star turn Phil Mickelson, the home side edged ahead and it was Irishman Paul McGinley who sunk the winning putt with a 10-footer to ensure a halve against Jim Furyk.

Torrance was given much of the credit for his bold decision to play his big guns first in the singles in stark contrast to opposite number Curtis Strange who opted to keep them to last when it was too late.

2004 – Oakland Hills, Michigan
Europe 18.5 – United States 9.5

A star-studded US team were strong favourites but skipper Hal Sutton’s decision to play Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together famously backfired as they barely spoke to each other. They lost first to Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington and then to Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.

The die was cast and by the time the first two days were over, Europe had a stunning six points lead. Mission impossible for Sutton’s men and so it proved as Bernhard Langer’s men ran up a record win. Colin Montgomerie had the honour of providing the coup de grace over David Toms as the last four Americans all fell.

2006 K Club, Dublin, Ireland
Europe 18.5 – United States 9.5

US skipper Tom Lehman tried to infuse team spirit into his side with a singalong session and repeated bonding outings, but they were shocked with the wild and windy weather which greeted them in Ireland. Europe counterpart Ian Woosnam by contrast had a rocky lead-in to the event and at one point even offered to resign.

But inspired by the wonderful play of Darren Clarke, just six weeks after the death of his wife, the Europeans were simply too strong. The home side led 10-6 going into the singles and there was no way back for the visitors as Colin Montgomerie beat David Toms again and Clarke made it three wins out of three.

Swede Henrik Stenson seconds later supplied the winning point as the record win of two years previously was brilliantly matched.

- (C) AFP, 2012

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