1991 Ryder Cup: The War of the Shore

Friday 27 September. Kiawah Island, South Carolina. The 29th Ryder Cup was going to be special, but I doubt those involved knew just how special it would become.

The Europeans travelled to South Carolina to play the first major tournament at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course. They were obviously stunned by the difficulty of the course, with Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal the only pairing to win a point in the first session.

The Americans, however, were caught off guard as Europe fought back to bring the tournament to within one point at the end of Friday.

On Saturday, again, the USA dominated the morning, whilst Europe dominated the afternoon.

Sunday saw eleven singles matches, as Steve Pate had to withdraw through injuries sustained in a car crash prior to the tournament.

Nick Faldo and David Feherty gave Europe the start they wanted, winning their games against Raymond Floyd and Payne Stewart respectively.

At that point, Mark Calcavecchia was leading Colin Montgomerie by four holes with just four holes to go. Calcavecchia couldn’t lose, but did end up halving the match with Montgomerie after one of golf’s worst collapses.

With the pressure firmly on, America rallied to win five of the next matches, leaving Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin to battle it out for the win. USA had a one point advantage on the scoreboard, meaning Langer needed a win to retain the Ryder Cup.

On the last hole, Langer was left with a six-footer for victory. The pressure was on. Every fan, player and coach had filled the dunes surrounding the green as if they were grandstands.

Langer was visibly feeling the pressure, taking a much longer time than usual over a putt which, whilst relatively simple, was one of the biggest putts of his career.

Once ready, he pulled his arms back and stroked the ball towards the left of the hole. The ball travelled, curving to the right and stopping agonisingly close to the lip. The media, fans and players from America stormed the green in scenes of triumph and jubilation. America had won the war.

1997 World Cup

The World Cup had been dominated by the American pair Fred Couples and Davis Love III, until South Africans Ernie Els and Wayne Westner utilised home advantage to prevent the Americans making it five in a row.

In 1997, the World Cup had returned to American soil but a surprise showing from Ireland and Scotland stopped USA from making this a happy return.

Colin Montgomerie played magnificently and eventually took home the individual trophy. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to propel Scotland to victory, and they lost out to a young Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, who won Ireland their first World Cup since 1958.

2003 World Cup

Germany got off to a wonderful start to lead to the 2003 World Cup at the end of the first day, leading on five-under-par. They were replaced at the end of round two, however, by the South African pairing of Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini.

Several teams had good days in the forgiving conditions on Saturday, but the South African pair shot a fine 63 to extended their lead to a massive seven shots, and cruised to victory on Sunday.