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Jack Nicklaus Concession

Top 10 Moments in Ryder Cup History

September 21, 2020
Ryder Cup

Old Ryder Cup Team

From its inception in the 1920’s, the Ryder Cup has rewarded us with spectacular golf and international sportsmanship.

Most of us have too many memories to count, but we’ve done our best to narrow it down to the Top 10 (five for U.S.A. team and five for Great Britain/Europe).

Ryder Cup Book

{A special thanks to Martin Davis, author of the brilliant book “The Ryder Cup, Golf’s Grandest Event, A Complete History”, the most comprehensive book ever written about Ryder Cup history”, available on Amazon . Photos courtesy of Martin Davis.}


1. Jack Nicklaus Concession in 1969

Jack Nicklaus Concession

Arguably the most famous concession in the history of golf, this wonderful display of sportsmanship reflects all of the treasured qualities of golf. Tony Jacklin had a short putt on the final hole at Royal Birkdale to ensure a tie for his team. It was short but certainly not a gimee, given the pressure, but Nicklaus conceded the putt and the rest is history.

2. Justin Leonard Sinks Amazing 45-Foot Putt to Seal Win in 1999

With the putt heard around the world, an amazing uphill 45 footer on the 17th green at The Country Club (Brookline), Justin Leonard etched his name indelibly into Ryder Cup folklore and propelled U.S.A. to victory in a phenomenal comeback. Few were giving the U.S.A a chance, but Captain Ben Crenshaw believed. At a dramatic Saturday night press conference, Crenshaw proclaimed: “I’m going to leave y’all with one thought, and I’m going to leave. I’m a big believer in fate. I have good feeling about this. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”

3. Oregon Businessman Saves The Ryder Cup in 1947

Photos courtesy of Martin Davis’s book The Ryder Cup Golf’s Grandest Event, A Complete History, published 2014.

Who knows, without Robert Hudson stepping up we might not even have a Ryder Cup. After a 10-year absence because of World War II, the Ryder Cup was scheduled to resume by the British team did not have the funds to make the transatlantic journey. Successful businessman Hudson came to the rescue and paid for their 7,000 mile trip to Portland Golf Club.

4. Lanny Wadkins’ Phenomenal Wedge Shot in 1983

A super talented wedge player, Lanny Wadkins displayed all of his talents with 60-yard shot to within 18 inches on the last hole to secure victory for the U.S.A. at the Champions Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

5. The Largest Margin of Victory in Ryder Cup History in 1967

Captain Ben Hogan knew he had a great team and they fulfilled their potential at the Champions Golf Club in Houston. At pre-match banquet Hogan pronounced his team as “the finest golfers in the world”. Led by Arnold Palmer, the U.S.A. team dominated with a 23 1/2 – 8 1/2 victory


1. Europe Wins For the First Time on U.S. Soil in 1987

Photos courtesy of Martin Davis’s book The Ryder Cup Golf’s Grandest Event, A Complete History, published 2014.

Muirfield Village in Ohio is affectionately known by many as “Jack’s Place”, where he designed his celebrated golf course. The Golden Bear was captain of the U.S.A. team so the sting of defeat was even stronger. Europe prevailed 15-13 and it was the first time they had prevailed on American soil.

2. Sam Torrance Clinches Europe’s First Win Since 1957 in 1985

Sam Torrance, who later became a Ryder Cup captain, displayed nerves of steel when he drained a birdie putt at The Belfry to secure Europe’s first victory in 28 years.

3. Europe Rallies From a 10-6 Deficit in 2012

The Americans were on their home soil at Medinah near Chicago with a huge lead entering Sunday play. The Europeans caught grabbed the momentum, led by fiery Ian Poulter, and clawed back for a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory.

4. Great Britain Prevails in 1957 Ending a Long Losing Streak

Photos courtesy of Martin Davis’s book The Ryder Cup Golf’s Grandest Event, A Complete History, published 2014.

With a seven-match win streak, the Americans were confident before the match at Lindrik Golf Club in South Yorkshire. Great Britain played wonderfully and got their first win in 24 years.

5. Graeme McDowell Clinches Victory in 2010

Graeme McDowell was on a roll in 2010 as the winner of the 2010 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach.  So, it wasn’t surprising that he played in the anchor single match that clinched the Cup for Europe at the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor in Wales. Interestingly, the matches were concluded on Monday, the first time in Ryder Cup history, due to rain delays.