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Greatest Ryder Cup moments

Jo Carter October 1, 2010
Seve Ballesteros played in eight Ryder Cups © PA Photos

The battlelines have been drawn in the valleys of Wales as Europe and America prepare for the 38th Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. With Colin Montgomerie's European team favourites to reclaim the coveted trophy from Corey Pavin's American champions, one thing is for certain - heroes will be made. As the 24 players prepare to make history in Wales, we take a look back at some of the greatest moments in the competition's 83 year history.

Valderrama - 1997
Recently voted the most popular player in Ryder Cup history, where else to start than with the great Severiano Ballesteros? A formidable matchplay opponent and a veteran of eight Ryder Cups, but it was his captaincy in 1997 that is remembered by many as 'Seve's Ryder Cup'. The first time the event was played in continental Europe, it was fittingly in Ballesteros' native Spain. After masterminding his team to a memorable victory by one point, it was a triumph of a genuine team over a group of American individuals. "Does it get any better than being captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team the first time it is held in your homeland?" said an emotional Ballesteros. His ongoing illness means he is unable to attend this year at Celtic Manor, but he spoke to the European players on Wednesday, delivering the same speech that inspired Europe to victory at Valderrama in 1997.

Royal Birkdale - 1969
Arguably one of the most famous moments in Ryder Cup history, and one of the greatest shows of sportsmanship. In one of the closest contests in Ryder Cup history, it came down to the final rubber between the great Jack Nicklaus, playing in his first Ryder Cup, and future European captain Tony Jacklin. After sinking his putt for par, the Golden Bear conceded a generous two-foot putt to Jacklin to tie the contest for the first time in the tournament's history. Although as defending champions USA retained the trophy, Nicklaus faced the wrath of captain Sam Snead. Walking off the 18th green, Nicklaus said to Jacklin, "I don't think you would have missed that putt, but in these circumstances, I would never give you the opportunity."

The Belfry - 1985
The day the Ryder Cup was wrenched from America's grasp for the first time in over thirty years. Ballesteros and Sam Torrance inspired Europe to their first victory and USA's first defeat since 1957. After Spanish duo Manuel Pinero and Ballesteros won 7½ points between them, Torrance battled back from three down to take victory over US Open champion Andy North, birdying an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th to seal the win, sparking emotional celebrations from the home crowd and the European team.

Darren Clarke's emotional celebrations at the K Club were the highlight of the 2006 Ryder Cup © Getty Images

K Club - 2006
No-one would have blamed Darren Clarke for turning down the invitation to play in the 2006 event, following the death of his wife Heather after a long battle with cancer less than a month previously. But Clarke accepted captain Ian Woosnam's wildcard pick and was the hero of the dominant European victory, claiming a 18½-9½ victory in Ireland. When Zach Johnson conceded Clarke's putt following his own failed birdie attempt for a 3&2 win, the roars erupted on the 16th green and Clarke broke down in tears. "This is as good as it gets," said an emotional Clarke. "My team has been unbelievable and the support the Americans have shown me has been incredible. The support from the crowd is something that I will cherish forever."

Kiawah Island - 1991
Dubbed as 'The War on the Shore' in reference to the Gulf War earlier in the year, the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island was one of the closest contests in recent memory. After three days of back-and-forth tussling, the destination of the coveted trophy came down to a six-foot putt. After Colin Montgomerie had battled back from four down to tie with Mark Calcavecchia, it came down to Bernhard Langer. His opponent Hale Irwin, overcome by the magnitude of the occasion, sliced his approach and struck a spectator. A poor chip followed and Langer conceded his opponent's bogey putt. Needing to sink a six-footer for par to claim the win, the German's putt sneaked agonisingly wide for the American team to claim a narrow 14½-13½ victory.

Brookline - 1999
Justin Leonard was the hero as the USA mounted a huge comeback to win the trophy for the first time since 1993. Trailing 10-6 after the opening two days, the Americans won their first opening singles matches to grab the momentum. Just half a point away from victory, Leonard trailed Jose Maria Olazabal by four with seven to play, but won four holes to level. On the final green, when Leonard sank his birdie putt, the Americans went mad, storming the greens, even though Olazabal still had a shot to play.

The Belfry - 1989
Widely considered to be the best shot in the history of the Ryder Cup, Christy O'Connor's approach onto the final green was ironically missed by the live television coverage. O'Connor's two-iron shot landed within four feet of the hole and sealed an impressive win over Fred Couples and was a crucial point in Europe retaining the trophy. The Americans won the final four singles matches, but they could only manage a tie, only the second in the history of the event.

Boo Weekley was a colourful character on the USA team © Getty Images

Valhalla - 2008
Who can forget Boo Weekley at Valhalla two years ago when the USA reclaimed the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999? Far from being overwhelmed by the occasion, the rookie played a critical role in his side's victory, as the underdogs claimed a 16½-11½ victory over Nick Faldo's Europe. The sight of Thomas Brent "Boo" Weekley, the honorary team jester, galloping down the first fairway with his driver between his legs was a lighthearted moment in an otherwise tense weekend.

Muirfield Village - 1987
European captain Tony Jacklin inspired Europe to their first triumph on US shores. After establishing a 10½-5½ lead after two days, largely in part of the heroics of Ballesteros and Olazabal, and a clean sweep in the fourballs on Saturday afternoon. After going two-down to Ireland's Eamonn Darcy after six holes, Ben Crenshaw snapped his putter in disgust and was forced to putt the remainder of the match with a 1-iron.

Celtic Manor - 2010
Tiger Woods has been away from the Ryder Cup scene for four years and in that period his life and career has gone on a rollercoaster ride. He is still world No. 1, just, but he has not won a tournament this year and has gone through a divorce after his private life became very public. Such is his poor form, he had to rely on a captain's pick to make Celtic Manor. He will step onto the first tee alongside Steve Stricker on Friday morning, desperate to put the thoughts of his first shot at the K Club four years ago out of his mind. He stepped up and drilled his tee shot into the horizon and it all looked so good, until it flew into Smurfit's lake 50 yards from the middle of the fairway. Now we're not hoping history repeats itself, but maybe, just maybe…

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Jo Carter Close
Jo Carter is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk