Continuing from part 1 where I revealed Arnold Palmer’s vision of getting war lords to play golf & a non Ryder Cup, yet golf supremo’s, approach to making the world a better place, here is that Ryder Cup moment that still mesmerises us all…(plus a few more)………….
Ryder Cup 1969: Then came that magical moment in 1969. On the very last hole, after three days of intense battle, The Open champion, England’s Tony Jacklin, had to make a nerve racking two foot putt to save Britain and Ireland from defeat. Up stepped the world’s greatest golfer, American, Jack Nicklaus, putted his own four and a half foot putt and then astonished the world by picking up Tony Jacklin’s ball marker (which effectively meant that Jacklin didn’t have to take the putt since Nicklaus ‘gave it to him’ or conceded the putt) and said “I know you would not have missed that.” Nicklaus later revealed: “I didn’t want to take the chance that he might miss the putt and have his stature diminished. “
Ryder Cup 2006: It’s 6.30am before the 2006 at the US PGA Golf Championship, when America’s Ryder Cup captain, Tom Lehman, invites fellow professional golfers to a private prayer for his golf friend and Ryder Cup opposition Darren Clarke whose wife, Heather had passed away a short time earlier. Many months later, when the still grieving Clarke walked onto the first tee of the Ryder Cup at Ireland’s K Club, his opposite number, America’s Phil Mickleson, walked towards Clarke, held out his hands and embraced him in a warm bear hug. Clarke hit a great tee shot and went on to play great golf. Then in the final hole of the final match between Paul McGinley and the American rookie JJ Henry, another magical moment occurred. The young American needed to putt a 25 foot putt to halve the hole, draw the overall match and, although the US had lost the Cup, avoid the USA suffering its worst ever defeat. McGinley conceded the putt.
Earlier in the year, the same Darren Clarke was winning by 2 shots with 10 holes to play when he hit his ball into thick rough in the Carton Club. The hooter went off and play was abandoned due to bad weather. When Clarke returned on the Monday he found his ball had magically emerged into a perfect position as all the thick grass was now flattened around his previously ‘almost buried’ ball. All the fans had trampled around the area or perhaps the Leprachauns had helped him. But Clarke refused to aim his next shot at the green, instead he chose to chip out sideways as that was what he would have done originally when the ball was deep in the thick grass. ‘Honesty’ he said ‘is part and parcel of the game and I could not have acted in any other way.’
Ryder Cup 2010: even before a ball has been hit, the European captain, Colin Montgomerie, announced that he had chosen not to use his “home captain’s prerogative” (which is setting the course up to suit the European players). He preferred instead to create an “honest course that would reward the best team”. Game on! And what a great game it was. It went right to the wire – the very last match. And Europe prevailed. The Americans displayed honest sportsmanship as they hugged their European victors – even in the early games. Both speeches were laden with honour and nobility as befits a sport that depends on its code of etiquette. The magic of the Ryder Cup continues.
Note: For the full story of each of these and to explain how a rampaging streaker influenced McGinley’s sporting gesture see Great Moments Of Sportsmanship – a collection of true 2 minute stories about sportsmanship with the foreword written by Paul McGinley.