After years of high pressure putts, monster drives and bunker escapes that sidestep the laws of physics, we take a look back at arguably the 5 finest shots in the history of golf’s most famous tournament.
Justin Leonard, 1999
It will be remembered as much for the class of the shot as for the flagrant disregard for sportsmanship. The spectator invasion that occurred before José María Olazábal could take on his difficult putt was a moment that still divides opinion, but there is no doubt that Justin Leonard’s 45-foot putt, which originally caused the chaos, was a piece of pure brilliance.
Sam Torrance, 1985
It had been an agonising 28-year wait to wrestle the Ryder Cup back from the US. Sam Torrance faced a 22-foot putt on the 18th, and duly dispatched the golf ball without so much as a flinch, before raising his arms to the air, victorious. The frozen, triumphant pose, complete with streams of tears, said it all.
Christy O’Connor Jr., 1989
In 1989, The Belfry played host to a moment of genius from Christy O’Connor Jr., and it easily ranks amongst the best Ryder Cup shots in history. Faced with a significantly higher-ranked opponent in Fred Couples, and a distance of some 230 yards to the hole, O’Connor took out his 2-iron and leathered the ball to a mere 4 feet from his target. Couples wobbled in response, and a birdie putt saw the Scotsman to victory.
Seve Ballesteros, 1983
A shot with more than an element of mystique about it, partly due to the fact that footage has seemed impossible to come by, but Jack Nicklaus proclaimed it to be “the greatest shot I ever saw.” Ballesteros found himself in the bunker, with 245 yards to clear the water.
Using his 3-wood he punished the ball and sent it, to the delight of onlookers, just slightly shy of the green. The US won the tournament that year, but the winds of change were evident, and Europe ended their 28-year wait for victory in 1985. The video below is just about the best you'll get.
Nick Faldo, 1993
The Ryder Cup has seen six hole-in-ones, but this beauty in 1993 was something special, not least because of the spiky rivalry between Faldo and ‘Zinger’.
It was 189 yards to the 14th hole, and Faldo’s awesome shot with his 6-iron carried a greenside bunker and rolled in. The ever-humble Faldo claimed he had predicted such an achievement, and even told fellow players. Some gloss was undoubtedly lost when he halved with his opponent, and Europe ultimately lost 13-15, but that doesn’t stop Faldo’s shot from being an absolute belter.