12 Of The Best Ryder Cup Pairings In History

Here we take a look at 12 of the best Ryder Cup partnerships in history, highlighted by Seve and Olazabal

Olazabal and Seve pictured - Best Ryder Cup Pairings
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here we take a look at 12 of the best Ryder Cup partnerships in history, highlighted by Seve and Olazabal

12 Of The Best Ryder Cup Pairings In History

The Ryder Cup gets underway soon at Whistling Straits and once again the partnerships will be crucial in deciding the fate of the trophy.

Here we take a look at 12 of the best partnerships in Ryder Cup history, with seven from the European side and five from the Americans.

In terms of partnerships, Europe has had more successful duos than the USA, with the likes of Bernard Gallacher and Brian Barnes not getting a mention below as well as Faldo and Monty, Coles and O'Connor Senior, Donald and Garcia, Jacklin and Oosterhuis, and Parnevik and Garcia.

Best Ryder Cup Pairings In History - Europe

Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal

Seve and Olazabal shake hands at Kiawah Island during the 1999 Ryder Cup. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Seve and Jose played together a record 15 times, making them the most frequent pairing ever seen in Ryder Cup history.

They won a staggering 12 points together which is six more than any other pairing.

The two Spaniards, speaking a different language in a match largely dominated by English speakers, could get under the Americans' skin with their competitiveness and razor-sharp short games.

They could both be erratic off the tee but would seemingly win and halve holes that they had no right to due to pinpoint accurate irons, perfect pitches, great putting and their never-say-die attitude.

Seve, who had formed a pretty good partnership with Jose Pinero in 1985, was like a father figure to Olazabal and they really did make the perfect partnership which was formed in 1987 at Muirfield Village.

The pair went on to win six of their eight foursomes games together and five of their seven fourball games.

They played together in every doubles session for three straight Ryder Cups and were unbeaten in eight games across the 1989 and 1991 matches.

Best partnership in Ryder Cup history? Without a doubt.

Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam

Faldo and Woosnam at Kiawah Island in 1999. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Faldo and Woosnam are the joint-second-highest points scorers in Ryder Cup history as a team with six, tied with Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

They appeared together first in 1987, the same Ryder Cup that the Seve/Olazabal partnership was formed, and won a total of six points from their 10 games together - winning five, halving two and losing three.

Faldo and Woosnam won 3.5 points out of four matches in the 1987 Ryder Cup and then played together in all four sessions again in 1989, where they won 2.5 points.

The duos of Faldo/Woosnam and Balesteros/Olazabal were the spearheads of Europe's Ryder Cup sides towards the late 80s and early 90s. Both have gone down in history as two of the best.

Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood

Clarke and Westwood at the K Club in 2006

Clarke and Westwood tied Faldo and Woosnam with six points, a total that only Seve and Olazabal surpassed.

The pair played together between 1999 and 2006 and won six and lost two from their eight matches.

They won 2/4 at the 1999 match at Brooklyn and didn't play again for five years, after Clarke/Bjorn and Westwood/Garcia were the more frequent pairings in 2002 under Sam Torrance at The Belfry.

It was worth the wait though, as they won every single match they played together at Oakland Hills in 2004 and the K Club in 2006.

Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie

Monty and Langer at The Belfry in 2002

Langer and Monty, always fierce but friendly foes in their careers, go down as one of the best European pairings to grace the Ryder Cup.

The pair won 5.5 points from seven games, winning five, losing one and drawing one. They were undefeated in four foursomes matches, winning three of them.

They played together first in 1991 and teamed up for the final time in 2002.

Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood

Whilst Lee Westwood had a great partnership with Darren Clarke, he and Sergio Garcia also made quite a handy team.

They played together on seven occasions between 2002 and 2008, winning five points with four wins, one loss and two halves.

They were undefeated in foursomes, winning two and halving one from three games and won 2.5 points from their four fourball games.

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose

Rose and Stenson pictured at the 2018 Ryder Cup

Rose and Stenson played together eight times and won an incredible six points.

The partnership was first formed in 2014 at Gleneagles where they won all three of their matches.

They were once again paired together in 2016 at Hazeltine, playing three games and winning just one.

At Hazeltine they did take down Spieth and Reed in the Friday afternoon fourballs, although the Americans got their revenge the following afternoon.

The partnership was back in 2018 at Le Golf National in the foursomes and it worked to perfection, with two points delivered from their two games.

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari - 'Moliwood'

Fleetwood and Molinari embrace

The 2018 Ryder Cup was famous for the Moliwood partnership, which yielded an incredible four points from four games.

There are European pairings to have won more than four points together in total, although no European duo has gone 4/4 at a single Ryder Cup.

The two best mates are etched in Ryder Cup history as one of the best pairings ever seen in the match, although we may never see Moliwood again after Francesco's loss of form.

Best Ryder Cup Pairings In History - USA

Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson

Palmer and Dickinson are certainly one of the best pairings in Ryder Cup history.

The Americans played together five times in the Ryder Cup between 1967 and 1971 and won all five matches.

Gardner Dickinson, who never won a Major, played in both the 1967 and 1971 matches and won nine of his 10 games including all five in 1967 at the Champions Golf Club in Texas.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed

The two Texans have become tied as the most successful USA Ryder Cup partnership in terms of points scored and they've only played in two matches.

Spieth and Reed were paired together seven times across the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups; three times in 2014 at Gleneagles and in every session at Hazeltine in 2016.

The partnership came to a controversial end in 2018 when Spieth was put with Justin Thomas, with Reed saying that Spieth didn't want to play with him.

This pairing could have passed the five points won by Gardner Dickinson and Arnold Palmer to become the USA's most successful partnership in history, although that never happened.

Perhaps one to re-visit in a future Ryder Cup?

Larry Nelson and Lanny Wadkins

Wadkins and Nelson in 1979 at the Greenbrier

Larry and Lanny played together six times between 1979 and 1987 and won four points, winning four matches and losing two.

They played together three times each in the foursomes and fourball, winning two and losing one in each format.

Phil Mickelson and David Toms

Mickelson and Toms in 2002 at The Belfry

Mickelson and Toms also played together six times and won 3.5 points between 2002 and 2006.

Mickelson has had numerous partners in the Ryder Cup down the years, from the likes of Tiger Woods to Chris DiMarco, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau, but only one of those partnerships yielded more points than he and David Toms got.

Unfortunately for him and Toms, the USA lost the Ryder Cup in 2002, 2004 and 2006 so their partnership ultimately wasn't enough to help their team secure victory.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley

Mickelson and Bradley in 2012 at Medinah. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Mickelson's most successful Ryder Cup partnership is with Keegan Bradley, as the duo won four points from their five outings together.

They played together in 2012 and 2014, winning two and losing one in foursomes and winning both of their fourball games.

Mickelson and Bradley won all three of their games in 2012 at Medinah and both men sat out of the afternoon fourballs where the pairings of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter famously won their matches late on to give Europe the momentum into Sunday.

Had Mickelson and Bradley been out that afternoon things may have been different.

They played together just twice at Gleneagles in 2014, both times on the Friday, and won one and lost one. Both players were then rested on Saturday.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5