First tee jitters; nothing like questioning your very being while a group of dandies quaff their drinks on the clubhouse patio disdainfully watching your hosel rocket into the woods.
While the Yanks and Euros aren’t chasing a paycheque, clearly competing for your country has these guys more nervous than a virgin at a prison rodeo.
Sometimes with this nervous energy leads to spectacular shots/results:
- Seve’s 245 yard 3-wood bunker shot on the 18th in 1983
- Nick Faldo’s hole in one in 1993 (one of only six ever in Ryder Cup history)
- Near hole-outs to win matches (Lanny Watkins (1983), Jamie Donaldson (2014))
- Colin Montgomerie going undefeated in his career in single play
Other times lousy shots/results abound under this heightened scrutiny:
- Mark Calcavecchia’s four hole meltdown at Kiawah in 1991
- Fred Couples shanked 8-iron to lose his match in 1989
- Jay Haas popping up his tee ball less than 100 yards in his Sunday match in 1995
- Hunter Mahan laying the sod over on his chip in 2010, missing the green from 10 feet
- Ben Crenshaw broke his putter in 1987, used a wedge or a 1-iron to putt the last 12 holes (what’s a 1-iron? Some sort of torture device?)
The duress can also result in questionable decisions/reactions from those involved, leading to some great rivalry moments:
- Paul Azinger & Seve - 1989 Singles as well as Team events in 1991
- Paul Azinger & Nick Faldo - from 1987 Open to 1993 singles match
- Seve vs. Everybody - the man irritated opponents and players he captained!
As Gentle Ben once said, we’re gonna leave y’all with one thought, then we’ll leave...
The Ryder Cup has also produced, bar none, the worst high five ever when Paul Azinger holed a bunker shot on 18 in 2002 to extend his match. This makes Tiger Woods “high five” with Steve Williams at the 2005 Masters feel as regal as Seve and his brother shaking hands in Augusta’s 13th fairway after reaching the green in two.
Buckle up folks! It’s the greatest non-major week in men’s golf... Ryder Cup Week!