10 Best Ryder Cup Players

The event has seen some of the greatest players ever compete in it, but who is the best Ryder Cup player ever?

Best Ryder Cup Players
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The event has seen some of the greatest players ever compete in it, but who is the best Ryder Cup player ever?

10 Best Ryder Cup Players

The Ryder Cup has had a long and illustrious history so far, with some of the greatest players ever to grace the game locking horns, all in the hope of winning the trophy.

But, who is the best ever Ryder Cup player? This very question is sure to divide opinion across Europe and America, but that hasn't stopped us from giving it a go.

In this piece we put forward our 10 best ever Ryder Cup players. Do you agree with our selections? Is there someone else that should have been included?

Seve Ballesteros

In terms of playing record, we should probably list Seve with his Spanish compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal simply because they were nearly unbeatable when paired together. In total they played together 15 times and lost twice producing 12 points which is six more than the next most successful pairing.

But it was not just his record that made him a great player in the event. It was Seve's passion, flair and at times, gamesmanship that differentiated him from the others. During the 1980's and 90's, he helped make the Ryder Cup what it is today, which is one of the biggest events in global sport.

Ian Poulter

Poulter's record at the Ryder Cup is 14-6-2, with the Englishman living for the Ryder Cup. So much so, his nickname is 'the postman,' due to his ability to deliver points at the most important times.

Of course Poulter should best be remembered for his exploits in 2008 where he produced four points from five matches and obviously 2012, where he brought Europe back from 10-5 down to win the Cup in what's known as the Miracle of Medinah.

Sir Nick Faldo

Faldo makes our list due to his longevity and he, along with Seve, helped make the event what it is today.

Before Garcia in 2018, he was the leading point scorer for Europe with 25 points and has an overall record of 23-19-4.

That record equates to a total of 46 matches, the highest ever, with the Englishman appearing in 11 Ryder Cups, which is the most for a European and second in all-time Ryder Cup appearances, with Phil Mickelson breaking the record at Le Golf National in 2018 with 12.

Faldo and Montgomerie in the 1995 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Colin Montgomerie

Montgomerie is arguably the greatest Ryder Cup player Europe have ever produced. He never lost in the singles from eight matches, was a consistent rock in the European team and always produced a point when needed, frequently getting under the skin of the other team's players and fans. His overall record was 20-9-7.

Sergio Garcia

How can you not put Europe's leading point scorer in this list? In 2018, Garcia produced three points out of four, with his 2&1 singles win giving him the record of 25.5 points.

Garcia brings unquestionable passion and fire to the event, often producing the best version of his game whenever the Ryder Cup is on.

In singles, he only has a record of 4-4-1, but when paired with someone else, he flourishes; in foursomes, his record is 10-4-3 and in four balls it is 8-4-3. He could potentially make his 10th appearance at Whistling Straits in 2021.

Patrick Reed

He may have only featured in three events, but Reed is fast becoming an imperious opponent in the Ryder Cup after producing 3.5 points in 2014 and 2016.

His 2016 singles match against Rory McIlroy, in particular, will go down as one of the greatest ever and Reed somehow managed to win the match 1-up which gave the Americans the platform to close the Cup out.

He may not be the best liked player on Tour, but when the Ryder Cup comes around, every American is glad that he is on their team.

Patrick Reed is fast becoming an imperious Ryder Cup player (Getty Images)

Jack Nicklaus

Whilst Jack's overall record is 16 wins, eight losses and three halves, which is good, his more lasting legacy is his famous concession to Tony Jacklin in 1969.

After holing a putt against Jacklin in the singles, the Englishman was left with a short putt for par. Instead of making Jacklin knock it in, Nicklaus famously gave him the putt and said; "I don't think you would have missed it, but I wasn't going to give you the chance, either."

An incredible act of sportsmanship, the two sides tied and the ideals of that match have lived on in every contest since.

Arnold Palmer

Looking strictly at the numbers, you could be forgiven for thinking that Arnold Palmer is probably the greatest player in the event ever; 22 wins, 8 losses and two halves is fairly comprehensive.

However, we should acknowledge that the opponents he was playing were nowhere near up to his standard, whereas the quality of the competition nowadays is significantly better across the board.

That isn't taking anything away from Palmer though, because, after all, you still have to beat the player in front of you, a task Palmer did regularly.

Billy Casper

Points wise, Casper is the most successful American to play in the event winning 23.5 points and he was a crucial part of a dominant American team during the 1960's and 70's. (Although he does have the same limitations as Palmer above).

Lanny Wadkins

Wadkins just makes our list for a couple of reasons. He has a very good record with 20 wins, 11 losses and three halves, and he also bought passion, steel and determination to the American team on more than one occasion.

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x