Perhaps the most recognisable of all Ryder Cup players, Seve became synonymous with the event as Europe began to dominate. After being voted off the team in 1981 he returned in 1983 and almost inspired a European victory, the 3 wood bunker shot that helped earn him a half in the singles going down as one of the greatest shots in Ryder Cup history. Ballesteros believed that the narrow loss that year was proof that Europe could compete and many of his teammates cite his defiant reaction as the moment they started to believe Europe could go on to triumph in 1985. Inspired by Seve they did just that. As a player and as captain Seve seemed to embody the competitive spirit of the Ryder Cup. His desire to win put many an American nose out of joint as he excelled in the psychological battle. His legend was only enhanced by his supremely successful partnership with Jose Maria Olazabal.
Appearances: (8) 1979, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93, 95. Captain 1997
Record: 59%, Played 37, Won 20, Lost 12, Halved 5
Europe’s captain in 2008 was a stalwart of the European team after making his debut for what was then Great Britain and Ireland in 1977. In his first tournament the rookie Faldo fought off glandular fever to take three points out of three including a singles win against Tom Watson and a fourball victory over Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd. Two years later Faldo cemented his reputation as a great Ryder Cup competitor taking four points out of a possible five. As one of America’s most feared opponents he became the most capped Ryder Cup player in history and won more matches and more points than any other player.
Appearances: (11) 1977, 79, 81, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93, 95, 97. Captain 2008
Record: 54%, Played 46, Won 23, Lost 19, Halved 4
Sergio Garcia has been a Ryder Cup phenomenon since he made his debut in 1999. The youngest ever Ryder Cup player in 1999, his partnership with Jesper Parnevik lit up the opening two days at Brookline and appeared to have hauled Europe to the brink of a famous victory before being reduced to tears by the American fight back in the singles. The ultimate team player, he has 8.5 points out of 9 in the foursomes and has only lost twice in ten outings in the fourballs. Irrepressible, enthusiastic and driven, Garcia is the rightful heir to Seve’s crown as Europe’s irresistible Ryder Cup force.
Appearances: (6) 1999, 2002, 04, 06, 08, 12. Vice-Captain 2010
Record: 64%, Played 28, Won 16, Lost 8, Halved 4
Tony Jacklin makes the European shortlist for two compelling reasons. As a player during some of Great Britain and Ireland’s darkest day he was the one Ryder Cup adversary that the Americans feared and respected. Never was that more obvious than on the 18th green at Royal Birkdale in 1969 when Jack Nicklaus conceded a putt that gave Jacklin the half he needed to tie the Cup. Then, as captain, Jacklin galvanised the European side and reinvigorated an event that had seemed in danger of collapsing under the weight of American supremacy. Jacklin inspired his side to win the Ryder Cup for the first time in 28 years in 1983 and then, in 1987, to win in America for the first time in 60 years of competition. Must be considered the Captain against whom all others are measured.
Appearances: (7) 1967, 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79. Captain 1983, 85, 87, 89
Record: 47%, Played 35, Won 14, Lost 13, Halved 8
The third Spaniard to make our shortlist and further proof of the incredible impact the advent of the Europeans has had on the event. Olazabal, who was a rookie member of Europe’s history making 1987 team, formed part of the event’s most enduring and successful partnerships with Ballesteros. The 12 points they won from their 15 games together is more than double the total achieved by any other pair in Ryder Cup history. One of the event’s great fighters Olazabal lost only five of the 31 Ryder Cup games he played and lies fifth on the all time European scorers list with a 66% points percentage that is beaten by only Garcia. In 2006 he returned to the event and took three points out of three including two stirring fourball victories with Sergio Garcia and a comfortable singles win over Phil Mickelson. However possibly his greatest triumph was as the caption of the victorious 2012 team, which he led to the Miracle at Medinah in honour of his great friend Seve.
Appearances: (7) 1987, 89, 91, 93, 97, 99, 2006. Vice-Captain 2008, Captain 2012
Record: 66%, Played 31, Won 18, Lost 8, Halved 5
He has only played in 4 Ryder Cups to date but his impact has been such that he already deserves to be ranked alongside the greatest of all match play golfers. Controversially picked by Captain Nick Faldo in 2008 at Valhalla he vindicated his selection with 4 points from 5 and a never to be forgotten 1up win in the Saturday afternoon fourballs with McDowell that introduced the wide eyed celebration that was to be his trademark. Celtic Manor built on his status as he predicted his singles win before backing it up. However it was at Medinah in 2012 where his individual performances on the first 2 days breathed life back into the corpse of the European team as he won 4 out of 4 to single-handedly inspire one of the greatest comebacks ever seen in Ryder Cup history
Appearances: (4) 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012
Record: 80%, Played 15, Won 12, Lost 3, Halved 0
Have Your Say
That is our picks of the greats in European Ryder Cup history, but we want to know who you think is the greatest. Comment below and let us know your opinion.