Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023 Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy

Lee Westwood will be in the team room on Friday when Europe get their Ryder Cup campiagn under way but it will be the first time since 1995 that he has not been a player.

Starting at Valderrama in 1997 Westwood played in ten consecutive Ryder Cups, being on the winning side for seven of them while racking up 23 points in 44 matches.

His total of 12 points in the foursomes is the most won by any player in European Ryder Cup history and that is where he won his first, on the afternoon of Friday September 26, 1997.

Westwood's first Ryder Cup was Nick Faldo's last as a player and it seems fitting that the pair played all four of their foursomes and fourballs matches together in Spain - after all, the name Westwood or Faldo appeared on 20 consecutive Ryder Cup teamsheets between 1977 and 2016.

Along with local hero José María Olazábal and a Colin Montgomerie at the very peak of his powers, Westwood and Faldo were the only players to play all five matches as Captain Seve Ballesteros put his faith in a rising star.

Westwood, then 24, had won his first European Tour title the previous year at the Scandinavian Masters and would go on to win his second at the Volvo Masters just five weeks after the Ryder Cup.

In the Friday morning fourball, Faldo and Westwood lost a tight match one up to Fred Couples and Brad Faxon but in the afternon they would emerge victorious, beating Justin Leonard and Jeff Maggert 3 and 2 as Europe edged ahead 4½-3½.

Westwood opened his fourball account the following morning as he and Faldo beat Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara 2 and 1, with Europe taking 3½ points in the session as they put their stamp on the contest.

A 2 and 1 defeat to Scott Hoch and Maggert followed but Europe led by five at the end of the day and survived an American fightback in the singles to take the Cup 14½-13½.

"Of course, Seve’s captaincy is an abiding memory," Westwood said in 2012. "Here, there and everywhere in that buggy. 

"I’ll never forget how he told me I’d be playing with Nick Faldo. I hadn’t practised or anything with him, didn’t even know him. And then on the Thursday night he goes, ‘Lee you’re playing with Nick’. We did well together and I looked on it as the faith Seve had in me."

Westwood broke his singles duck as Europe won the 2004 Ryder Cup by a nine-point margin on his way to a record that reads joint second in Ryder Cups played, second in matches played, fourth in points won and second in fourballs points won to go with his foursomes record.

It will be a new perspective for Westwood this week as a Vice Captain, but it all started on a rainy weekend in Spain 21 years ago.


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