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History's Best Ryder Cup Photos: Our Top 7 Pictures

POSTED ON: 10 October 2018

For young golfing fans, it could be easy to think that Europe have always had the best of the Ryder Cup (and the best Ryder Cup photos too of course). Having won so many of the recent iterations of the classic biennial event, Europe’s dominance has understandably meant they’ve had many of the most memorable moments. In fact, it wasn’t always this way...

For almost six decades, Great Britain and Ireland just couldn’t keep up with the Americans. The Ryder Cup became known as the stomping ground of the USA, back when the other European countries had no involvement.  A few unsuspected upsets in 1929, 1933 and 1957 were exceptions to the rule.  Outside these years, America ruled the roost.

Fast-forward to 1979 however and the Ryder Cup would never be the same again. For the first time, the more inspiring Ryder Cup photos doing the rounds didn’t exclusively feature elated Americans. The tournament evolved to put the biggest names in golf from both the United States and Europe against each other. 

To say that this all brought a big turnaround would be something of an understatement. In fact, across the 17 events that have been held since Europe joined in 1979, America has chalked up just seven victories. By contrast, Europe currently has 10 wins under its belt.

For any keen golfer, to look back over the history of the Ryder Cup is to pay homage to something truly special. There are certain Ryder Cup photos that encapsulate what this event is and always has been about. One of the most important events in the golfing calendar, winning the Ryder Cup is about so much more than bragging rights...

It’s about golf immortality.

So with this in mind, we take a look at some of the most inspiring and iconic Ryder Cup photos ever captured... Both on and off the golf course. Present any of the following golf prints to a keen golfer and a chill down their spine is all but guaranteed.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at Ryder Cup 1971

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer Pair Up


First up, there have been few superstar pairings in the history of professional golf quite like this. When Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer joined forces for the Ryder Cup, the golfing world watched in silent awe. This particular shot was taken when the dynamic duo was lining up an important putt during the 1971 Ryder Cup. At the time, they were taking on Peter Townsend and Harry Bannerman of Great Britain.


Seve at Ryder Cup 1985

Seve Ballesteros at Ryder Cup 1985


No stranger to controversy over the years, Seve Ballesteros also fired out some of the most spectacular shots in Ryder Cup history. One of which being his famed escape from one of the most dreaded bunkers at the Belfry, during the Ryder cup in 1985. Which, of course, Europe went on to win.




US Team Ryder Cup 1991

USA Celebrate at Kiawah Island 1991

Things were always going to get a little wet and wild here. When the United States won the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, they made the most of the spectacular setting. This iconic picture captured Team Captain Dave Stockton giving Corey Pavin an early bath. The merriment to the whole thing somewhat contrasting with the rather bitter tone of a tense Ryder Cup.



Justin Leonard 1999 Ryder Cup

Justin Leonard Celebrates Monster Brookline Putt

If there’s a more dramatic way to seal the tightest of victories, we’ve yet to see it. In September 1999, Justin Leonard landed an extraordinary 45-foot putt on the 17th hole on the final day of play. This clinched the victory for the United States at the Ryder Cup at the Country Club in Brookline, with the Americans squeaking by the Europeans 14.5 to 13.5.



Graeme McDowell Ryder Cup 2010

Graeme McDowell Closes Out the Match On the 17th 

Back at the Ryder Cup in 2010, Graeme McDowell likewise sealed the deal for Europe in typically dramatic style. In fact, the final day of the event at the Celtic Manor Resort was one of the most dramatic in recent history. The USA just wouldn’t give up and play dead, ultimately leaving the match to be decided with a stellar performance by McDowell on the 17th hole.



Ryder Cup 2012 Winning Team

2012 European Ryder Cup Winning Team

What made Europe’s 2012 Ryder Cup win so special was the record-setting comeback nobody had expected. Mention the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ to any European golf fan and watch them go misty-eyed. America needed just 4 ½ points to secure victory, though somehow gave way to Europe during the event’s biggest ever comeback. The European team looks elated in this picture, and who can blame them? They’d just made history!



Francesco Molinari at Ryder Cup 2018

Francesco Molinari Europe Winning Ryder Cup 2018

Of course, Europe’s most recent victory over the United States in 2018 also earned its place in golfing history books. An incredible performance from Francesco Molinari helped reclaim the prize for the Europeans. He became the first European to win maximum points for his team in the Ryder Cup. 



Didn’t see your pick for the best Ryder Cup photo? Explore more iconic shots on our golf photos page!



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