The last match on Saturday at the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island, which eventually led to the "oceanic" U.S. celebration the next day, tops Mark Rolfing's list of personal Ryder Cup moments. (Getty Images)
My favorite Ryder Cup moment
NBC Sports is preparing to broadcast its 10th consecutive Ryder Cup, and its broadcast and production team is preparing to add to its collective list of memorable moments. From 1991's "War on the Shore" at Kiawah Island, S.C., to 1999's final-day comeback by the U.S. Team at The Country Club, to the 2006 European romp in Ireland at The K Club, to U.S. redemption at Valhalla in 2008, NBC cameras have been there, capturing the emotional ups-and-downs that only a Ryder Cup can produce.
What follows is a compilation of the most memorable moments of a select group of NBC Sports' golf broadcasting team. As the showdown at Celtic Manor looms, expect more drama, more emotion and more lasting memories to add to this list.
DAN HICKS: “In 1999, I was working in an outer tower with Bernard Gallacher. From the get-go, I sensed how into it he was and we emphasized to him that, yes, he was a European, but you can’t root for the team. He did a good job. But I will never forget the look on his face when the Americans started to make a comeback on the final day when it was obvious there was nothing the Europeans could do to thwart it. What I drew from that was how emotional and how passionate the Europeans are about the Ryder Cup. To have that taken away from them the way it was, was devastating. When I looked at his face, it was like all the blood was drawn out of him.”
Justin Leonard (Getty Images)
“Justin Leonard’s putt on the 17th green at The Country Club. There was an amazing singles comeback happening and I got sent to Justin’s match against José María Olazábal. Justin’s making an amazing comeback himself. This was a guy that was getting squashed on the front side by Olazábal and now he’s back in the match. The way the green was configured, everyone was packed behind the green with the grandstand behind us. Justin had 45 feet and was putting from the lower level up across the ridge and it was going pretty hard. When the putt was 18, 20 feet from the hole, I said, ‘This one’s good.’ Sure enough, it rattled in. Then that big celebration went off. That assured the U.S. would win and it was pretty electric to see everyone pour onto the green.”
“I was fortunate enough to interview Payne Stewart in 1999 at Brookline after his final match. I was there when he conceded the putt to Colin Montgomerie. It’s something I’ll never forget with the circumstances of the day and what happened later that year. Payne, to me, was the perfect Ryder Cup player. Everything about him was red, white and blue. It was a pretty special thing.”
“It was my 1995 parking-lot interview with Brad Faxon. Brad was sobbing. He had totally lost his composure. I had been covering golf for years, and had been to previous Ryder Cups and all the majors. But that interview demonstrated to me how important the Ryder Cup was for these players. I had seen many great golf moments before, but I had never seen this. It’s been my point of reference ever since.”
Darren Clarke (Getty Images)
“At The K Club, I was in the first fairway calling the shots from the third match when Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood stepped to the tee for the fourth match. I was glad we were on tape because when they announced on the first tee, the crowd was loud and it was emotional considering everything Darren had been through, losing his wife to cancer and coming back to play. I was glad I was out of range and we were on tape.”
“My favorite moment occurred at my first-ever Ryder Cup in 1991 at Kiawah Island. That was the week that I believe changed the Ryder Cup forever. It was 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday and NBC was scheduled to go off the air. The other three four-ball matches had finished and I was with the only remaining match, which was only on the 14th hole -- Fred Couples and Payne Stewart versus Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal. The teams were tied and NBC made the decision to stay on the air and, as I recall, ran no commercials. The next one and a half hours was magical as they wound up halving the match.”