Top News
Seve Ballesteros at The 1997 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)
Top News

Europe

1997-1999: Best Ryder Cup quotes

With less than two months until The 42nd Ryder Cup begins at Le Golf National in France, rydercup.com looks back on the best quotes from previous Ryder Cups.

We start this week's throwback with the 1997 edition, which marked a landmark in the history of the tournament. For the first time, The Ryder Cup was held outside of Great Britain and the United States at Valderrama in southern Spain. Seve Ballesteros, veteran of eight Ryder Cups, captained the team in Sotogrande, with Tom Kite leading the Americans.

Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, and Thomas Bjørn were among Europeans making their first appearance in the competition. Westwood partnered Nick Faldo in the Friday afternoon foursomes in a 3&2 win over Justin Leonard and Jeff Maggert, as Europe held a 4½ - 3½ lead heading into the weekend. Europe dominated the Saturday play, losing just one match and winning six points out of a possible eight. Ballesteros' side had established a commanding 10½ - 5½ lead with one day's play remaining and looked favourites to retain the trophy.

Despite the Amercians rallying in the Sunday Singles, Europe secured a 14½ - 13½ victory, with Bjørn, Costantino Rocca, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Per-Ulrik Johansson all winning points in their respective matches.

Let's take a look at the best of the quotes from that special week in Spain...

"To be the captain and to win The Ryder Cup in Spain was a very special moment. It's one of the great moments of my life." - Seve Ballesteros, on leading Europe to glory in his homeland.

"We may have held the clubs, but Seve hit the shots." - Ignacio Garrido, on the influence of Europe's captain.

"The single greatest shot I've ever seen." - Tom Lehman, on a Phil Mickelson shot on the 17th.

"I'm sure the American team at the end of the week were playing him [Seve], not us." - Colin Montgomerie, on how Seve's spirit affected the Americans.

"I have 12 guys who can beat Tiger Woods." - Seve Ballesteros, on his sides' chances against golf's latest phenom.

In 1999, the venue was The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Mark James took on the European captaincy for the first time, with Ben Crenshaw in the opposite corner. Crenshaw, who had won the Masters Tournament in 1995, headed into the tournament with just one rookie, David Duval, compared to the seven rookies in James' side. 

Among those rookies were Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jiménez, 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie and Ireland's Padraig Harrington. Despite over half of the team making their debuts, Europe led after day one, with Lawrie, Garcia, Harrington and Jiménez all contributing on the opening day. A lead of 6-2 put the pressure firmly on the home side.

By the end of Saturday, Europe led 10-6, but American Captain Crenshaw expressed his belief that his team could turn things around on the final day. That proved to be the case, as the Americans earned 8½ points to triumph 13½ - 14½ on a day that has come to be remembered as one of the defining ones in Ryder Cup history.

Let's take a look at some of the best lines from that week on the East Coast...

"I'm a big believe in fate. I have a good feeling about this." - Ben Crenshaw, on his team's chances heading into Sunday.

"That's what you've got to do in this game, ride a streak, and they rode the streak remarkably well today." - Mark James, on the key to the American victory.

"We were just trying to show them some American firepower." - David Duval, on the home side's Sunday showing.

"Europe had a great party at Valderrama and we had to watch it. Now it's their turn." - Tom Lehman, on how the Americans would relish success.

"Just when it seemed we might pull it out, they holed a bunch more stuff." - Mark James, on the Americans gaining the upper hand in the contest.