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Memory Lane

Ryder Cup 2023: The 15 most inconsequential moments in Ryder Cup history

September 27, 2023
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David Cannon

Thanks to the adrenaline that comes with playing for your country—or contintent in Europe's case—the Ryder Cup has become one of golf's most electric competitions in recent decades. Having the 1991 installment garner the nickname "The WAR by the Shore" only added to the drama. Same with "The BRAWL by the Mall (of America)" in 2016.

OK, so we made that one up, but you get the point. This is (pretty) serious stuff. And to cover that side of the biennial event, our Shane Ryan wrote about the 15 most consequential moments in Ryder Cup history. But this is definitely NOT that. In fact, it's literally the opposite of that.

So without further ado, here are the Ryder Cup moments that meant the least on paper but the most in our hearts.

Those shirts (1999)

The most hideous golf polos in history were just so happened to be part of the most beautiful U.S. comeback. In the end, it didn't matter what the Americans were wearing that day at Brookline. They were rolling in putts from all over Massachusetts.

Anyway, you can buy one of these bad boys (emphasis on bad), but it's going to cost you. A LOT.

Chris Riley tapping out (2004)

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY

This is not to pile on Riley for opting not to play the second session that Saturday after a dominant morning win with Tiger Woods, but again, it wouldn't have mattered. The Americans got their butts kicked all week, even when Woods played with Phil Mickelson earlier. Woods and Love should have made for a formidable pair that afternoon, but instead they got dusted by Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley. Tiger has a history of rotating partners—maybe that instability is a big reason for his disappointing Ryder Cup record—but in any event, Riley's decision is an interesting, if inconsequential, footnote.

Boo's bull ride (2008)

Team Europe has had more than its fair share of fine moments during the past four decades, but getting run off the course by arguably the weakest (at least, on paper) American team in recent history while Boo Weekley literally ran around the course imitating Happy Gilmore? A guy who didn't even know you could concede putts until earlier that year? Yeah, that's pretty rough.

Anthony Kim's abrupt exit (2008)

How locked in was Kim during the 2008 Ryder Cup? He didn't even realize he had beaten Sergio Garcia during their Sunday singles match:

Of course, the match mattered a lot in terms of setting the tone for that final day. But by the time what we're talking about happened, the match was literally over. That doesn't mean it still wasn't awesome. In fact, if we were doing a ranking of the most awesome moments in Ryder Cup history, this would be up there. Miss you, AK. Miss you every day.

BOOM, BABY! (2010)

This trademark celebration from Jeff Overton following a hole-out eagle could have been consequential, but the U.S. got beat (once again) that week anyway.

Remember, this was the year they wore those disastrous rainsuits. Those were definitely NOT inconsequential.

JT's poem (2012)

No, not Justin Thomas, Justin Timberlake ... reciting a poem during the opening ceremony ... called "Golf" ... by some guy named Randy Sabados. And no, it wasn't well received.

Seriously, whose idea was this?! They brought in one of the greatest entertainers of our time to do … that?! He should have performed "What Goes Around Comes Around" instead. Or "Cry Me A River." Or, pretty much anything.

Rory's police escort (2012)

JT voice: I'm bringing sexy Rory back (Yeah)! Actually, this was potentially very consequential. McIlroy barely made it back to Medinah for his Sunday tee time after a "time zone mix-up" thanks to help from local authorities.

And he went on to beat Keegan Bradley, earning a crucial point in Europe's Mircale at Medinah win. Do we really think Team Europe would have forfeited that match, though? And that Team USA and Team NBC would have accepted that free point? And if so, do you also believe in the Easter Bunny?

Rory's kilt and wig (2014)

Everyone focuses on what happened at that gloriously awkward Team USA press conference when Phil Mickelson criticized Tom Watson while sitting a few feet away and rightly so! I was there and it was quite a scene. Despite the matches being over, that moment had its consequences with the Yanks forming a task force and taking the event more seriously (not that it helped four years laterr). So instead, we present a victorious Rory McIlroy wearing a wig and a kilt. And not much else.

Good times. And while we're talking about good times …

Jamie Donaldson's drunk interviw (2014)

We've seen some inebriated winning Ryder Cuppers through the years (See: Rory, above), but the unlikely hero at Gleneagles was clearly still buzzed the following morning for this chat.

Ain't no party like a Euro party, 'cause a Euro party don't stop.

"The putt" (2016)

On the eve of the 2016 event, a fan in the gallery at Hazeltine National named David Johnson became a legend.

In fact, this may have broken the confidence of Team Europe. And it certainly fired up that infamous Hazeltine crowd. Maybe it wasn't so inconsequential after all. In any event, our Joel Beall caught up with David recently. And if he shows up at Marco Simone, the Euros better look out.

Phil's high kick (2016)

We'll miss Phil in the team room as a vice captain this year, but now that he's 53, maybe it's for the best that he isn't using teammates as stunt props.

Rickie the bachelor (2016)

One of the greatest photos ever taken:

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PGA of America via Getty Images

Rickie Fowler amid a sea of WAGs PDA. Tough spot. Of course, the story has a happy ending. Fowler soon found his future wife, Allison Stokke and, a little while later, his game again.

DJ the photographer (2018)

One of the greatest photos ever taken of someone taking a photo:

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Andrew Redington

Actually, this was kind of a big deal at the time since there were rumors that Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky might be kaput before they were seen together at the Ryder Cup gala and content makers around the globe breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was pretty inconsequential to what happened at Le Golf National, where DJ and the rest of Team USA got their butts kicked, but it was nice to see that love conquers all.

The "Moliwood" bed video (2018)

The fantastic play of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood was the biggest storyline in Paris in 2018 (well, other than Team USA completely self-destrucing and Patrick Reed eventually throwing everyone under the bus). But this "Moliwood" moment happened after the event was over, and, it's, well, see for yourself:

Molinari returns to the Ryder Cup cauldron as a vice captain this year and the pair's reunion is sure to be emotinal.

The axe-throwing contest (2019)

The gauntlet was thrown down (literally) ahead of the 2021 Ryder Cup when captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington had an interesting competition (go to the 5:20 mark of the video) to promote the event:

Let's hope the golfers at Whistling Straits don't get bored playing ping pong, because that looks dangerous …