Bishop & Sewell

The Ryder Cup, golf’s most prestigious team event, has produced its fair share of dramatic moments throughout its storied history, writes David Little, a Partner in our Corporate and Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too. Will the Italians, who are hosting this Ryder Cup witness anything as dramatic as ‘The Miracle of Medinah’, ‘The War on the Shore’ or ‘The Concession?’

Europe’s captain, Luke Donald, this week selected Ludvig Aberg, Tommy Fleetwood, Nicolai Højgaard, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka as his six Captain’s Picks to complete his 12-man European Team for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy. They join Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Robert MacIntyre, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm, all of whom qualified automatically for the contest against the United States, which takes place at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, from September 29 – October 1.

Sweden’s Aberg, Denmark’s Højgaard and Austria’s Straka will each be making their first appearance for Europe in the Ryder Cup, while Ireland’s Lowry will be playing in his first on European soil having been part of the team at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin two years ago.

The 39th Ryder Cup held at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois will forever be remembered for one of the most incredible comebacks in golf history. The European team, led by captain José María Olazábal, faced a seemingly insurmountable deficit of 10-6 heading into the final day of singles matches. The American team, captained by Davis Love III, appeared poised to reclaim the coveted trophy.

However, the Europeans had other plans. They staged a stunning comeback by winning 8.5 of the possible 12 points in the singles matches. The key moment came when Martin Kaymer, the German golfer, sank a nerve-wracking six-foot putt on the 18th hole to secure the decisive point that retained the Ryder Cup for Europe. The final score, Europe 14.5, USA 13.5, cemented this tournament’s legacy as the “Miracle at Medinah” and showcased the remarkable resilience and teamwork that defines the Ryder Cup.

Then, in 1991 the Ryder Cup, held at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, was marked by intense rivalry and heated emotions. The American team, captained by Dave Stockton, faced off against the European team led by Bernard Gallacher. The fierce competition and passionate displays of patriotism on both sides earned this event the nickname “War on the Shore.”

The most dramatic moment came during the Sunday singles matches when the last pairing featured Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin. With the match all square on the 18th hole, Langer faced a crucial six-foot putt to secure a half-point for Europe. The pressure was palpable as Langer missed the putt, giving the victory to the American team by a mere point, 14.5 to 13.5. This dramatic conclusion solidified the intense rivalry between the two teams and showcased the emotional intensity that the Ryder Cup can evoke.

My favourite Ryder Cup moment, possibly predates many readers. The 1969 Ryder Cup, held at Royal Birkdale, featured a dramatic and sportsmanship-defining moment. The final match on the last day pitted Jack Nicklaus against Tony Jacklin. With the overall score tied, the outcome of this match would determine the winner of the Cup.

On the 18th green, both players had short putts to win their respective halves of the match. In a remarkable act of sportsmanship and goodwill, Nicklaus famously picked up Jacklin’s ball marker and conceded the putt, resulting in a tie for the hole and a tied overall match. This “Concession” not only secured the first-ever tie in Ryder Cup history but also showcased the true spirit of true sportsmanship.


Contact our Sports Lawyer

David Little, is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB419 on either 07968 027343 or 020 7631 4141 or email

The above is accurate as at 25 September 2023. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 29th Sep 2023

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