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1997 - Seve inspires home win

Ballesteros has his dream come true at Valderrama

By Ryder Cup.   Last Updated: 28/08/12 9:44pm

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Seve Ballesteros: Was never going to give the Ryder Cup up on his home Spanish soil

Seve Ballesteros: Was never going to give the Ryder Cup up on his home Spanish soil

Having turned the Ryder Cup from a joke, one-sided contest into one of the world's most anticipated sporting events, 1997 was Seve Ballesteros' personal lap of honour, as the match was played in Valderrama, Spain.

The run-up to the match saw controversy as Ballesteros, desperate for Jose Maria Olazabal to play, deselected Miguel Angel Martin. It was an insensitive decision, performed with even less sensitivity and no-one watching felt comfortable about it.

Eventually the Europeans would complete the victory Ballesteros craved but in some ways they did in spite of him because he was frantic all week and often got under the players' feet.

But in reality they did it for him - knowing how much the win meant to him and how much they all owed him.

Ballesteros opted to play the fourballs in the morning, believing it was where the European strength was. On the first morning the score was 2-2 but thereafter he was proved correct as Europe ground out an advantage.

They took the first day afternoon foursomes by one point and the second day morning fourballs by three. When they also took the final foursomes by a point the lead was up to five points.

In the singles Tiger Woods found himself up against the jovial Italian Costantino Rocca who stunned the debutant with a 4&2 victory.

"It was a very good match, I putted a little bit better than him," Rocca said. "I played my game and this was the reason I could beat Tiger Woods. If I play his game, I'm dead already before we start!

"Seve helped me a lot before the start, he told me 'play your game and you can do it. If he plays good, he plays good, the most important thing is try not to lose the hole to a par'.

"That I think was the key. Especially as every time I play my second shot first. I was never past him off the tee, except maybe on the par three!"

It was just as well that Rocca did win because the early results were appalling for Europe.

Fred Couples thrashed Ian Woosnam 8&7, Mark O'Meara posted a 5&4 win over Jesper Parnevik, Tom Lehman walloped Ignacio Garrido 7&6 and Phil Mickelson dispatched Darren Clarke 2&1.

With Thomas Bjorn four down after four holes to Justin Leonard, matters looked dreadful for Europe, but the Dane pulled out the stops to earn a half and Per-Ulrik Johansson defeated Davis Love III 3&2 to keep the ship afloat.

Bernhard Langer forced a win against Brad Faxon which left the final match on the course the crucial contest, Colin Montgomerie versus Scott Hoch.

Montgomerie knew the significance of his match and called the front nine a "nerve wracking experience".

He didn't hold the lead until the 16th hole when Hoch made bogey, but the American made birdie on the next to bring it back to all square.

The entire match rested on the result of the final hole, but a half point was enough for Europe.

The 18th hole at Valderrama suits a draw, Montgomerie always hit a fade, but he made the green in regulation, Hoch didn't and the Scotsman conceded Hoch's 12-foot par putt because he had the half he needed.

"Before the Ryder Cup I said that I wouldn't mind being in a position to where it all came down to me," he said afterwards. "Well, I've changed my mind. I can tell you, I don't want to do that again. It wasn't fun out there."

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