Five best moments when the Ryder Cup is won
MEDINAH, Ill. (AP)
The end of the last Ryder Cup can look frightening on television. Hunter Mahan conceded on the 17th hole at Celtic Manor, and what began with teammates rushing over to congratulate Graeme McDowell turned into a mob. It was like ants converging on a morsel of food.
And it was pure joy for McDowell.
There can be no greater feeling than delivering the clinching point in the Ryder Cup, to the point where it has become a badge of honor. There even was some debate in 2004 whether it was Colin Montgomerie or Ian Poulter who was in the decisive match. Montgomerie gets the credit.
Years ago, a reporter was curious about the celebration of winning the Ryder Cup, and how that must feel for the losing player in the match. The reporter brought up the image of Sam Torrance, who simply raised both arms as Europe ended a 28-year losing streak. Trouble is he mentioned this to Andy North.
''That was me that he beat,'' North said. ''Thanks for bringing that up.''
The best moments when the Ryder Cup is won? Here are five to consider:
5. NICKLAUS KISSES THE DIVOT
The modern era of the Ryder Cup is traced to 1983 at PGA National, which is when the matches first became competitive and have remained that way. U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus never played on a losing team, and his reaction at a key moment showed how much the intensity was starting to ratchet up.
The matches were tied at 8 going into the Sunday singles, and they were still tied at 13 with two games on the course. Tom Watson was 1 up on Bernard Gallacher playing the 17th, while Jose Maria Canizares was 1 up on Lanny Wadkins on the par-5 18th. A half-point for Wadkins figured to be crucial, and he delivered one of the most memorable shots in the Ryder Cup - a pitching wedge to within inches of the cup, that enabled him to win the hole.
Nicklaus was so thrilled that he grabbed the divot and kissed it.
Technically, it wasn't the clinching moment, but Nicklaus made it feel that way. Moments later, Gallacher made double bogey and the Americans won. Barely.
4. THE PUTT AGAINST ALL ODDS
Justin Leonard's 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole at Brookline lives in Ryder Cup infamy for so many reasons. Ultimately, it cannot be ignored.
The Americans needed only a halve to reach 14 1/2 points and win the cup and complete the biggest comeback in history. Leonard had been 4 down and rallied to square the match playing the 17th, though Olazabal had the edge from 25 feet, while Leonard faced his monster putt up the hill. He was quite thrilled when the putt dropped for birdie, which is quite an understatement.
Leonard thrust his arms, turned and ran toward his caddie. That was fine. Trouble is, the American team watching - and their wives - ran across the green to join in the celebration, even though Olazabal still had a putt to halve the hole. Leonard helped restore order, and Olazabal missed his putt.
In an Associated Press survey 10 years ago on the greatest shots in the Ryder Cup, veteran British writers could not ignore the significance of the putt. The late Dai Davies of The Guardian perhaps summed it up best when he wrote, ''It was a great putt. We'll say no more.''
3. A DREAM SEASON, A DREAM FINISH
Graeme McDowell didn't realize his year could get better than winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. But it did.
He was sent out in the final singles match against Hunter Mahan in 2010 at Celtic Manor - where McDowell had won the Wales Open earlier in the year - and neither of them thought the Ryder Cup would come down to that match. Europe had a three-point lead and was headed for victory. Then, the leaderboard filled with American red, and it became clear what was at stake.
All of Wales was watching, along with both teams. It was pressure not seen at the Ryder Cup since Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer at Kiawah Island, which was the last time the cup had been decided by the final match. Mahan made a strong rally to get to within 1 down, but on the 16th hole, McDowell hit 6-iron to about 15 feet and holed the curling putt for a 3 to go 2 up with two to play.
He closed out the match when Mahan flubbed a chip on the 17th, then chipped close for a bogey and conceded. A week of rain ended in mayhem, and a celebration that shows how sweet victory is in the Ryder Cup.
2. SAM TORRANCE ENDS 28 YEARS OF LOSING
Europe showed it was getting closer to winning the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1957, and it finally celebrated at The Belfry in 1985.
After falling behind on the first day, the Europeans rallied to take a 9-7 lead going into singles, and this time there was no denying them. Seve Ballesteros and Tom Kite halved their match, putting Europe one point away from the win. Sam Torrance, who had dreamed all his life of holing the winning putt at the Ryder Cup, made a 6-footer for par on the 17th to square his match with Andy North.
North hit into the water on the 18th, and the match effectively was won when Torrance hit an approach to some 18 feet. Torrance had three putts to win the match, but he ended it in style by making the birdie. Looking stoic as ever, dressed in a bright red sweater, Torrance stood still and simply raised both hands over his head. Sometimes, the most understated celebrations are the most memorable of all. ''A moment I'll never forget for as long as I draw breath,'' Torrance said.
1. MCGINLEY TAKES A DIVE
Paul McGinley had breakfast Sunday morning at The Belfry in 2002 with Pierre Fulke and Phillip Price, and they had a hunch the Ryder Cup would come down to one of their three matches. It came down to the Irishman, who was in a fierce battle with Jim Furyk. McGinley holed a clutch putt on the 17th to draw all square, and he needed only to match Furyk on the 18th to give Europe the half-point it needed to be assured of winning back the cup.
It looked bleak, as McGinley missed the green by some 30 yards and Furyk was in a greenside bunker. McGinley hit a beautiful shot to about 8 feet, while Furyk blasted out to 3 feet for a certain par. McGinley, facing the greatest pressure of his life, holed the putt and leapt into the air.
His teammates rushed toward him and were about to throw him into the lake when McGinley sprinted to the edge of the water and dived headlong. He came out of the water with an Irish flag draped around him and a smile that couldn't fade.
''I said I'd love to have the opportunity,'' McGinley. ''It was a matter of having the nerve to hit it on the line, and fortunately I did.''