Part three of A-Z of the Ryder Cup as we go through the alphabet with some magic memories. Here are: S to Z

A-Z of the Ryder Cup: S – Z

Part three of our Ryder Cup A-Z starts with S


A-Z of the ryder cup

Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal shake hands during the Ryder Cup at the Belfry in 1989

The names Ballesteros and Olazabal next to each other on European match sheets have proved the undoing of more Americans than any other pairing in history. The two Spaniards drew the best out of each other whenever they were paired together between 1987 and ’93. They won 11 of the 15 foursomes and fourball matches they contested, halving two more and losing just two, making them by far the most successful duo in Ryder Cup history. Their singles records are nowhere near as impressive though – Seve has won just twice in eight attempts and Ollie just once in six.


A-Z of the ryder cup

Torrance after holing the winning putt in 1985 at The Belfry

For many, Sam is nearly as synonymous with European Ryder Cup heroics as swashbuckling Seve. As a player in 1985 he is famously remembered for holding his arms aloft as his birdie putt dropped to defeat Andy North, while as captain in 2002 his shrewd strategy of front-loading the singles reaped cup-winning dividends. But scratch beneath the surface and Torrance’s personal Ryder Cup record is actually fairly poor. In 28 matches over eight Ryder Cups, Sam has won seven, lost 15 and halved six. But the two successes outlined above surely compensate more than adequately.

Perfect records are hard to come by in the Ryder Cup – perhaps not surprising given the quality of players making the team on both sides. Larry Nelson won nine matches out of nine in the 1979 and ‘81 events. But he then undid all the good work in ‘87, leaving Jimmy Demaret as the man with the most impressive 100% record. The American played three singles and three foursomes matches over three Ryder Cups from ‘47 to ‘51 and won all six. The only 100% records among GB&I or European players to have played at least two matches belong to John Jacobs in 1955 and Paul Broadhurst in 1991, both of whom played two and won two.


A-Z of the Ryder Cup

Valderrama’s famous 17th green during the final day singles of the Ryder Cup

When the Ryder Cup finally left British or American soil for the first time in 1997 it was only fitting that it should go to Spain given all that Seve had done to make it such a thrilling spectacle. It was even more appropriate that the flamboyant Spaniard should be named as captain against Tom Kite’s men. Not all were fans of what Seve did to the front of Valderrama’s 17th green, the Spanish sun didn’t smile all that much and Europe nearly squandered a handsome lead going into the final day singles. But they didn’t and Seve had the broadest smile of pride imaginable as his men held on for a one-point victory, leaving probably his final mark on an event to which he has given so much since ‘79.


A-Z of the Ryder Cup
The 1991 matches at Kiawah Island in Carolina were inappropriately dubbed this in the light of the Gulf War that year and a few Americans donned Desert Storm-style camouflage hats during the competition. “We went over there and thumped the Iraqis. Now we’ve taken the cup back,” gloated a misguided Paul Azinger after the event, failing to spot the subtle difference between a war in which people get killed and a game of golf in which a few egos might get bruised. The trophy was decided by the final putt on the final green in the final match with Bernard Langer missing a vital six-footer as he tried to steer it round a spike mark according to his autobiography (remember that one next time you miss a crucial putt on the 18th!).

The only way to describe some of the expletives issuing forth from the lips of a minority element in the galleries during the infamous 1999 clash at Brookline, Massachusetts. Much of it was hurled in the direction of unofficial European team leader, Colin Montgomerie, who somehow found the inner strength to brush off the foulest of language. Sadly it was all too much for Colin’’s father, James, who walked back to the clubhouse in disgust during Colin’’s singles match unable to take any more. One of the Ryder Cup’s darkest hours.

An irritating shout that has become more prevalent in recent matches especially on American soil, along with its close cousin “geddindahole”. This has left some viewers with no option but to turn down the volume on the TV. The latter of these shouts even seems to feature on par 5s yet holing out from 500 yards remains a rarity despite advances in technology!

Thankfully for this potentially tricky final letter, the name of Frank Urban Zoeller on the team sheet three times between 1979 and ‘85 amounted to little more than American charity to the European cause. Fuzzy has one of the worst Ryder Cup records of any American to have made the team more than once (P10, W1, L8, H1). But to be fair, he did still walk off with two Ryder Cup winner’s medals – or whatever it is they give them – in ‘79 and ‘83.