Part one of A-Z of the Ryder Cup as we go through the alphabet with some magic memories. Here are: A to I
A-Z of the Ryder Cup: A – I
A – ALLISS
The most common surname on Ryder Cup team sheets over the years thanks to 13 appearances between 1929 and 1969 by father and son, Percy and Peter. They pip the O’Connors – Christy Senior and Junior – by one. Peter continued the Alliss contribution for many years in the commentary box delivering a blend of humorous observation mixed with his trademark strongly-expressed opinions.
B – BELFRY
Cynics may still allude sneeringly to the Brabazon course at the Belfry’s former role of potato field more than its current one of famous golf venue, but few will deny that between 1985 and 2002 this Warwickshire parkland layout served up some magical Ryder Cup moments. This is in no small part due to two holes – the 10th and 18th – whose aquatic defences are familiar to all golfers – especially top-name Americans who have fallen more spectacularly foul of the water at the last over the years than there European counterparts.
C – CONCESSION
Jack Nicklaus’ famous concession to Tony Jacklin in 1969 which sealed the Ryder Cup’s first ever tie has become an iconic gesture of sportsmanship. With the trophy hanging in the balance, their final match reached the final green all square. Jacklin rolled his first putt up to virtual gimme distance; Nicklaus charged his 15-footer for the trophy some 4ft to 5ft past. Then, having bravely holed the return, Nicklaus conceded Jacklin’s two-footer with words along the lines of, “I didn’t think you’d miss it, but in the circumstances I wasn’t going to give you the chance.’ Captain Sam Snead and some of Nicklaus’s team-mates were reportedly less than enamoured at Jack’s generosity, but such has been the enduring nature of the gesture that Nicklaus and Jacklin were recently commissioned to work together on a golf development in Florida called The Concession that opened early in 2006.
D – DUBLIN
Dublin held a special place in the hearts of European Ryder Cup fans long before the 2006 clash at The K Club. For it was in 1987 at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, that the European team secured its first ever victory on US soil. Eamonn Darcy stepped up to the plate that year, holing a crucial last-hole putt to defeat Ben Crenshaw. The American had punished his putter so severely early in the match that he had to rely on his 1-iron and sand wedge on the greens – still putting better than you or I generally do with our most favoured flat sticks!
Related: 2016 European Ryder Cup Team
E – EUROPEANS
When the Americans got bored of ludicrously one-sided affairs in the 1960s and ‘70s, it was Jack Nicklaus who helped trigger the Ryder Cup’s transformation into one of the most eagerly-awaited events on any sports fan’s calendar. Nicklaus approached Lord Derby, then president of the PGA, with a solution – to let continental Europeans join the British and Irish players. Bet he’s regretting it now. Three cheers for the Golden Bear!
F – FALDO
Big Nick is the most capped Ryder Cup player of all time, notching 11 consecutive appearances from 1977 to ‘97 and playing in 46 matches. His stats read P46, W23, L19, H4, and for many his finest hour came at Oak Hill in ‘95. Lying all square with Curtis Strange playing the last, things looked bleak when Faldo missed the fairway on the left. But two methodically calculated wedges to four feet and a clutch par putt sealed victory against a crumbling, shell-shocked Strange, thus avenging the Englishman’s play-off defeat by the same player in the ‘88 US Open.
G – Garcia
Donning the mantle of “cavalier match winner” left hanging in the Ryder Cup cloakroom by Seve in 1995 and then Ollie in ‘99, Sergio has already played himself into the Ryder Cup record books on at least two counts. He was the youngest ever Ryder Cup player in history in 1999 aged just 19 years and eight months; and has played on seven teams (P32, W18, L9, H5) which will become eight at Hazeltine.
H – HAEGGMAN
Fourteen years after Europeans became eligible, Joakim Haeggman became the first Swedish Ryder Cupper when Bernard Gallacher named him as one of his wildcards in 1993. Sadly for Haeggman injury and poor form have meant no repeat appearance to date.
I – IRISH CONNECTION
What is it about the Irish and the Ryder Cup? One minute it’s Eamonn Darcy holing a tricky downhiller to see off not-so-gentle, putter-snapping Ben Crenshaw in 1987’s crucial singles match; next it’s Christy O’Connor Junior’s magic 2-iron upsetting Fred Couples at the Belfry in ‘89; then it’s Philip Walton doing just enough up the last to edge out Jay Haas for Europe’s vital winning point in ‘95; and finally Paul McGinley holing an eight-footer to halve with Jim Furyk – again at the Belfry – to swipe the trophy back off the American mantlepiece in 2002. Luck of the Irish, eh? It almost sounds made for Padraig Harrington to round off his double Major-winning season in style.