Belfry brilliance

Rob explains why the 1985 Ryder Cup may be the greatest ever

Last Updated: 24/09/12 5:09pm

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Three of the European stars: Langer, Lyle and Seve

Three of the European stars: Langer, Lyle and Seve

Which was the greatest Ryder Cup ever?

That's the question we're asking YOU to answer as part of our competition to win a chance to play the 2014 Ryder Cup course at Gleneagles.


This tournament has given us plenty of memorable moments over the years, so to help you make your mind up we canvassed the opinion of Sky Sports golf expert Rob Lee.

Here's what he had to say...


For me, the 1985 Ryder Cup at The Belfry sticks out more than any other.

With Tony Jacklin as captain, it was a really strong win for the Europeans after decades of defeat. We didn't just crawl over the line, we won magnificently well, and it all culminated with that iconic moment with Sam Torrance on the 18th green.

To understand why it was such a memorable Ryder Cup you need to put it in context. Only four years earlier, the Americans had sent the most amazing team I'd ever seen to Walton Heath. You had Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Bill Rogers, Hale Irwin and Johnny Miller in the side - and they duly walloped us.

At this point, America had won the trophy 12 times in a row and I thought Europe had no chance.

Then at Palm Beach Gardens the Americans won again, but this time only by a point. Our players were crying on the plane home, but Seve Ballesteros told them to dry their tears because they would win in 1985.

He said they could treat it like a victory because they'd proved they were able to beat the Americans - and they'd almost done it on American soil. I think that sowed the seeds for what was to follow.

I think 1983 was a turning point in Ryder Cup history because in 1985 the Americans were beaten for the first time since 1957. From being slaughtered in 1981 to winning in 1985... things had definitely moved our way.

Straight away you could see the team atmosphere was unbelievable. I recall Howard Clark holing one the length of the green on the long par-five 15th before doing a jig with his playing partner, Sam Torrance.

I'll also never forget Craig Stadler missing a tiny putt to secure a point for the Americans in the afternoon fourballs and after that things all went Europe's way.

We suddenly had some belief and I still have the picture in my head of Torrance with arms aloft on the 18th when he holed the putt to secure the point that won the Ryder Cup.

He wasn't the last to finish and in the end Europe didn't just win; they won by five points - and from that point onwards we have been good value.

There have, of course, been many memorable Ryder Cups since then.

I'd say Brookline in 1999 wasn't a great tournament, but it was certainly unforgettable. Europe had a 10-6 lead going into the singles, but going against conventional wisdom, Mark James hadn't used three of his rookies on the opening two days.

The USA (in their dreadful shirts) managed to turn it around on the final day, but I didn't think the tone set by the players was right. Ryder Cup crowds don't need to be whipped up and when Justin Leonard holed a big putt on the 17th green, players and spectators ran across the green as if it was all over - even though Jose Maria Olazabal still had a putt to halve the hole. That was wrong, but it sticks in my head.

The 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland is another memorable one. Darren Clarke had just lost his wife and I'll never forget when he stepped onto the first tee and the crowd went nuts as he hit it 300 yards down the middle of the fairway. He went on to get three points from his three matches as Europe won again.

But neither of those would be my choice. I always think of 1985 as the completion of a process that had started against the team that could never be beaten in 1981 and was followed by Seve's team talk in 1983.

The marvellous events of 1985 would get my vote.

Do you agree with Rob? CLICK HERE to cast your vote and enter our competition now!

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