A Ryder Cup rarely goes on until Monday, but at The Celtic Manor, the South Wales autumn left organisers no chance that year. Monty’s magic Monday was as drama-packed as you would expect from the final day of the great golfing showdown and the reduced crowds made for a far more intimate affair. Today on the blog we will take you through that great event, the first Ryder Cup ever held in Wales.
The 2010 Ryder Cup Teams
Going in, the US was defending the glorious Samuel Ryder trophy, won dramatically at Medinah Country Club in 2008, and Team Europe wanted the trophy back and all of the spoils that have befitted the winning Ryder Cup teams in recent times on European soil in 2006 at The K Club and 2002 at The Belfry.
Team Europe Captain Colin Montgomerie, an 8-time European Order of Merit Champion and 8-time Ryder Cup player, had form on his side as the US hadn’t won a Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993. Team USA, led by Corey Pavin, were out to change that startling fact. Some huge names were making their first appearances at that Ryder Cup too. Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari and Dustin Johnson all went into the week as rookies.
Tiger Woods was a captain’s pick that week and had to show his captain was right to put his faith in him. On the other side, Sergio Garcia had not been picked by Monty and would be missing his first event in five playings. He was, however, a passionate member of the team making his presence felt. The Molinari brothers also made an appearance. With strong performances during the season, Edoardo and Francesco Molinari were the first brothers to play together in the biennial showdown.
There was one other key team member that should be mentioned. He may have only held a symbolic role in the team, but there is no doubt he influenced this Ryder Cup. This member of Team Europe was Seve Ballesteros, the legendary Spaniard who was a hero among his fellow-Europeans. At this time he was gravely ill due to brain cancer, his prognosis was bleak and his teammates desperately wanted to win in his honour.
The Celtic Manor Resort – The Perfect Ryder Cup host
The Twenty Ten Golf Course at The Celtic Manor was selected as being host of the 2010 event, making it the first in Wales to have the event since it’s inauguration in 1927.
When the event was awarded to the resort in 2001, they wasted no time in creating a venue the country would be proud of. Wentwood Hills, a course right beside the resort was renovated and expanded to make the first-ever purpose-built Ryder Cup course.
With nine holes from the original course and nine new ones, the land was made with the huge crowds in mind. Natural amphitheatres and plenty of space for fans were built in. When the course opened in 2007, it was clear this would make for a special golfing arena. The 7,493 yard par 71 is a challenging course and multiple large water hazards test accuracy. It is the perfect matchplay course and was designed to able to hold around 50,000 fans. Celtic Manor is the first of a new breed of courses made for this kind of tournament. It is now a more common thing with Le Golf National, as a similar example, hosting the 2018 event.
Day One – Session One – Fourballs
There is nothing like the electric atmosphere of a Ryder Cup. That Friday morning in Newport, the golf and weather gods conspired to test the resolve of golf fans as the rain poured on the Celtic Manor Resort. It didn’t work, the fans still showed up in fine fettle to battle the elements and watch the world’s best facing-off.
The rain was unrelenting that day though. Two major weather delays meant that the fourballs would not be completed that day. The fans, soaked but disappointed, had to go home and find shelter. The tournament organisers had to figure out how to make the schedule work. It was decided that they would attempt to play complete this session on Saturday morning, a move that had never been made before.
To fit the required amount of matches into the amount of time available, three sessions of four remaining matches became two sessions for six matches. All twenty-four players would play in these sessions, another unique occurrence during this particular Ryder Cup.
Day Two – Session One Continued
The sun was out and the country of Gwent was looking resplendent in the autumnal sun. The course was utterly saturated but the rain had passed and the golf was on. It was time to do battle once again. As always at the Ryder Cup, the crowds were out early and making themselves heard. The play resumed from the day before and Team USA would go on to win the session 2½ to 1½. Match play wins from Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton gave the US a slender lead after the prolonged first session.
Day Two – Session Two – Foursomes
When the dust had finally settled on the first session, the players had a quick turnaround and time to grab a sandwich before saddling up for the second round. All players would be sent out for this session and very quickly the US got things going again. A big win for Woods and Stricker put another red point on the board. Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan would go on to win the next match on the 18th hole and increase the lead to four points before a mini-comeback would begin on the European side.
Wins from Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter and Luke Donald would level-up the session and recapture some crucial momentum from the visitors. As the final match came to a close, it was clear this was a symbolically important match to win. The Northern Irish team of McDowell and McIlroy were playing the former Georgia Tech teammates Cink and Kuchar. This was team golf at its finest and the US team would end up taking it by one hole.
Day Two – Session Three – Foursomes and Fourballs
The format for this session had to be altered so that the games could be completed. Team USA was going into this session with a two-match lead. Things had been tight to this point but the US team were growing in confidence. Things were looking ominous for the Europeans.
As the third session began, the scoreboard quickly went blue. A flurry of birdies dropping all over the course shifted the momentum massively in the home side’s advantage. The crowd were on top form and the roars echoed around the resort as European leads grew. Team Europe needed a strong showing in this session and needed to fightback.
Things were going great. The all-blue scoreboard was a wonderful sight to see and it was looking promising. There was a problem, sunlight was rapidly running out. Then, in what seemed like a flash, sunlight did run out. The play was halted. This could have been perfect for the Americans. They could regroup and use this break to hopefully allow their rivals to cool off. It was a tense evening and a unique Ryder Cup Sunday awaited everyone.
Day Three – Session Three Continued
As the golfing world woke up on Sunday, it seemed the weather still wasn’t quite done messing around with this Ryder Cup. The Newport countryside had taken yet another soaking and play had to be delayed while the heroic groundstaff worked yet more magic. It would be the afternoon before any golf was played. The result of this was that Monday golf was now unavoidable, a first in Ryder Cup history.
Before that though, session three had to be completed and the main question was whether Europe would start back the way they had left off on that electrifying form. They did. Monty’s Men would take that session 5½ – ½, led off by an amazing 6 and 5 victory by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood over one of Team USA’s most impressive pairings, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the opening foursomes match of the session, and give themselves a lead of 9½ – 6½ going into the singles. That half-point that America earned in that session would have been a full point, had Francesco Molinari not ripped a wedge into tap-in range on the 18th for the birdie to deny the American point. At this point, The Ryder Cup match was very much in the balance, with all to play for as we headed into the final session.
Day Four – Session Four – Singles
As the first-ever extended Monday finish in a Ryder Cup, it is safe to say that many golf fans developed Ryder Cup fever and were unable to attend their work that day. There was an incredible atmosphere at Celtic Manor that day as the sun was up and it was clear that the tournament would end that day. People had snatched up spare tickets or just worked out a way of being there. It was like a bonus day of world-class golfing action.
There is nothing quite like the singles matches in a Ryder Cup. Twenty-four of the best players in the world doing battle in a format we so rarely see. Head to head pure matchplay and with the partisan crowd cheering every shot of the way, it’s the stuff that makes the hair on your neck stand up.
The singles session was as classic as Ryder Cup final day golf gets. It was constantly going back and forth and the quality of golf on show was breath-taking. One of the US heroes that day was the rookie, Rickie Fowler. He was three down with three to play and, had his point gone blue, the match would be over. He dug deep and by winning each of the closing holes against Edoardo Molinari, he turned around the dormie three position to half his match.
The largest win on The European Team in the Monday singles was delivered from Ian Poulter. “The Postman” of many a Ryder Cup success and moment claimed a 5&4 victory over Matt Kuchar to take his points total for the week to 3 from 4 matches.
With one game left on the course, the 2010 Ryder Cup was 13½ – 13½. Pavin and Monty were chewing through their fingernails as was the entire golfing world. Four days of battle coming down to just a couple of holes. At sixteen, the current US Open champion, Graeme McDowell would drop a fifteen-footer to take the hole and go dormie two. The half-point in the match was guaranteed, yet that wasn’t enough, half a point would mean that Team USA would retain the trophy. The hopes of the Americans rested on the shoulders of Hunter Mahan.
The par-three seventeenth awaited. A half, or a win for McDowell, on either of the closing holes, would mean that the Ryder Cup was coming back to European shores. Mahan left his tee shot short, McDowell had left himself sitting pretty on the dancefloor. Only those who have played in a Ryder Cup could describe the pressure and at that moment, that pressure was too much for Mahan as he duffed his chip. The hole would go to Europe. The 2010 Ryder Cup would go to the European Ryder Cup Team. The green flooded once more, this time with players, the family of the players, officials and fans. Champagne bottles popped and bubbles sprayed. The four days of The 2010 Ryder Cup was over and Captain Colin Montgomerie had another Ryder Cup win, this time as captain.
Seve makes an appearance
As already mentioned, a win for Europe here was so important to everyone involved in the team effort as their talisman was in a fight for his life. Monty and his team were desperate to give him a win all week and they had done it. The team had celebrated from the balcony, showing off the trophy and celebrating with the fans. They then got themselves changed for the closing ceremony.
As the crowds made their way toward the stage area, all attention turned to the clubhouse. Something was happening. A huge picture of Ballesteros was being carried by Team Europe as they walked over to the ceremony. In an emotional tribute to Mr Ryder Cup, the players paid homage to the great man and sent a message to Seve that he was as much a part of this win as any of the ones he had been present for. The crowd cheered and chants of “Ole, Ole, Ole-Ole” rang out over Celtic Manor. This bitter-sweet moment was one of the most special of the already unforgettable week.
The Ryder Cup is a unique event and one that golf fans from both sides of the Atlantic hold dear. There is nothing like a Ryder Cup, anyone who has played in it or been to one will tell you that. Those who have played in it become are part of a small fraternity and it doesn’t matter what colours they were wearing when they played. Everyone knew just how bleak Seve’s situation was and this was an emotional tribute to the great man.
The 2010 Ryder Cup Summary
This was a roller-coaster of a week as the weather combined with the golf to add extra drama. On a course that had, for the first time, been engineered to host this event there was a lot of pressure on this to be a great venue. It did not disappoint. With so many of the matches coming down to those almost theatre-like final holes, everyone had a great view of the action.
In some ways, the Newport weather made this the 38th Ryder Cup even more memorable. The course was the perfect setting for this battle and it is no wonder that other courses have been made especially for the Ryder Cup. It is a formula that works and now three European host courses in a row have been engineered for the biennial event. The Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort is the first example of a whole new type of course. If you are a true golf fan then you need to go and play the course that gave birth to arena golf and relive some of these incredible moments of golfing history.