Luke Donald possesses an impressive record in team events (Getty Images)
From amateur teams to Ryder Cup glory
Both teams may have their fair share of Ryder Cup rookies, but it is not the first taste of team golf for most of them.
Sarah Gwynn, European Tour Editorial Staff
The last time Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods both played in a team competition in Wales was 15 years ago, when Great Britain and Ireland regained the Walker Cup from the United States.
Woods’ performance was impressive, with two points from four matches, but Harrington was one of the stars of the show, winning three points from a possible four, beating Woods in the second day foursomes. It could be an omen.
Woods and Harrington are not the only two to have played Walker Cup; indeed, ten of the 24 players playing in The 2010 Ryder Cup have participated in the amateur version of the match between Europe and the United States.
Europe’s Luke Donald has arguably the finest record in the competition, winning seven points from a possible eight in 1999 and 2001, and his results in Ryder Cups have been just as impressive, with five and a half points from seven matches having played in the victorious 2004 and 2006 Teams.
The Englishman also won the Eisenhower Trophy in 1998, the St Andrews Trophy in 2000 and the Jacques Léglise Trophy in 1995.
Graeme McDowell was Donald’s team-mate in the 2001 Walker Cup success at Ocean Forest, Georgia and contributed a healthy two points from his four matches. Seven years later the Northern Irishman graduated to the real thing, taking two and a half points from his four matches at Valhalla, where Europe lost to Paul Azinger’s American Team.
Rory McIlroy played Walker Cup in 2007, winning one and a half points from his four matches, and he also played Eisenhower Trophy and St Andrews Trophy in 2006, winning the latter, and the Bonallack Trophy in 2005.
Only Ross Fisher, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Ian Poulter have no amateur team experience. Lee Westwood was part of the victorious Jacques Léglise Trophy teams in 1990 and 1991, while Peter Hanson played Eisenhower Trophy in 1998, the same year he won the St Andrews Trophy with the Continent of Europe.
Since his amateur days, Westwood has risen to the pinnacle of Ryder Cup success, tasting victory four times in six contests and equalling Arnold Palmer’s record of being unbeaten in 12 consecutive matches, from the opening morning fourballs in 2004 to the afternoon fourballs of day one in 2008. The Englishman also stands equal second in the list of most successful Ryder Cup partnerships, with Darren Clarke, having taken six points from their ten matches together.
The Molinari brothers have an unenviable record in amateur team events, however, claiming just one victory between them in nine attempts – when Francesco won the Palmer Cup in 2004. Edoardo played in the Eisenhower Trophy in 1998 and 2000, and they both played in 2002 and 2004. They were part of the same St Andrews Trophy and Bonallack Trophy teams in 2004, and Edoardo also played in the Jacques Léglise Trophy in 1998.
But, of course, they more than made up for that record when they came together sensationally to win the Omega Mission Hills World Cup last year and record an historic first victory in the event for Italy.
For the Americans, six of the 12 played Walker Cup during their amateur days, some coming up against the European players they will face at The Celtic Manor Resort.
Rickie Fowler, the first US PGA Tour rookie to be picked for an American Ryder Cup Team, played in the Walker Cup at Royal County Down in 2007, winning one of his two singles matches and both foursomes – one of which was against McIlroy.
Dustin Johnson was also in that victorious 2007 team, taking one and a half points from three matches, and two years earlier in the same competition fellow Ryder Cup debutant Jeff Overton holed the winning putt for the Americans, earning his third point from four matches.
Matt Kuchar played in the 1999 Walker Cup but did not take a point from his two matches as the United States lost 15-9, and it may be nearly two decades ago, but Phil Mickelson played in the 1991 Walker Cup, his three points from four at Portmarnock giving an indication of the player he would become. The Californian will be the second American player to take part in eight consecutive Ryder Cups at The Celtic Manor Resort, equalling Billy Casper’s record.