Players excited about '91 Ryder Cup reunion at Kiawah
Memories of one of the most dramatic weeks in golf will be renewed during the 68th Senior PGA Championship when Dave Stockton and eight other players reunite at The Ocean Course to remember the 1991 Ryder Cup played there.
When he was last summoned to The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C., in an official capacity, Dave Stockton was not carrying golf clubs.
In September 1991, Stockton was the United States Ryder Cup Captain, and he was on a mission. His goal was to find a way to spark American pride by guiding 12 other Tour professionals to recapture an elusive trophy.
Echoes of what was one of the most dramatic weeks in golf will be renewed for Stockton and eight other participants who competed in the 29th Ryder Cup, as they reunite at the 68th Senior PGA Championship, May 22-27, at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
"When I was there for the Ryder Cup in 1991, I had a different outlook," said Stockton. "My job was to be the cheerleader, pat the players on the back and let them hit the shots.
"It will be great to see the course again. I've been back a couple of times on corporate outings since, and the wild stuff has thinned a little. However, you still don't want to land your ball in it."
Stockton will make his 14th appearance in the oldest and most prestigious event in senior golf, having enjoyed his best showing with a tie for third in 1994.
He will be joined by 1991 U.S. Ryder Cup Team members Raymond Floyd, Chip Beck, Hale Irwin, Wayne Levi, Mark O'Meara and Lanny Wadkins -- all who are eligible for the 50-and-older major championship.
Meanwhile, the 1991 European Ryder Cup Team will be represented by Seve Ballesteros, Mark James and Sam Torrance. European Captain Bernard Gallacher, who has played sparingly the past two seasons following a shoulder injury, is the only eligible player not in the field.
"The Ocean Course was perfect for the Ryder Cup," said Stockton, who is one of 11 past Ryder Cup Captains entered in this year's Championship, "but it will be unbelievable for stroke play. Much will depend on the wind, of course. You can never get too comfortable with it."
Stockton said that his enthusiasm for a return visit is shared by members of that '91 U.S. Team, which survived a missed putt by Germany's Bernhard Langer in the final singles match to reclaim the Ryder Cup by a 14 1/2-13 1/2 margin.
"I've spoken to some of the '91 Team who are playing in the Senior PGA," said Stockton, "and we're all looking forward to reliving some of the amazing shots that were played. However, I will try to forget everything that I saw on No. 17."
Memories of the par-3 17th, which continues to be one of the most daunting par-3 holes in competitive golf, still haunt today.
"When we played there in 1991, it was the most difficult course I'd ever seen or played," said Stockton. "Despite the thinning of the areas where the galleries will gather, it still makes you play every shot in your bag.
"I'm looking forward to the total experience at Kiawah -- remembering the vibes of the '91 Ryder Cup and the stresses that went along with it. It will be a special week for me and my wife (Cathy)."
What They Remember About 1991
Mark James, Europe
"I remember playing partners with Steven Richardson and we played really well together. I think we got two holes up ... but we were very unlucky, and I think [Mark] Calcavecchia and someone [Payne Stewart] really messed us up. I think Calc hit it stiff from about 60 yards, out of the bushes, on one hole. I remember we played really well and then I remember getting creamed by Lanny Wadkins in the singles, which I've tried to erase from my brain but failed. It was a great match and the course was really good. No one had ever heard of it, but when we got there we thought, Wow, this is a great course, and it's proved it since. I remember (U.S.Vice President) Dan Quayle came into the portable trailers we had that were our team rooms. He came in and said hello. Not many of us knew who he was.That's about it. We were put up in apartments, which was nice... . But it was a great match that came down to the putt at the end with Langer. It was a heck of a series of matches."
Mark O'Meara, United States
"It was an exciting match and it all came down to the last putt.There was a lot of wind out there and the conditions made it pretty difficult that week ... Kiawah really is a great course."
Sam Torrance, Europe
"It's a fantastic course. At the Ryder Cup we played it off the tips and I don't think we'll play it as far back as that at the (Senior) PGA, which will be good because it's a very demanding, difficult golf course. It was great fun and I'm looking forward to it because it's a beautiful place, but a tough, very tough golf course."
Wayne Levi, United States
"Well, what was funny was that they used to chauffeur us around a lot because we had a lot of parties and functions to go to and that's the year we all got in the big accident where all the limos collided.Three or four limos collided and Steve Pate was in the limo I was in, and he got thrown up against the back seat, I guess, when they hit or whatever, and he got hurt and he ended up not being able to play in [singles] ... So, I mean that was probably the most unusual thing that happened there that week."
Raymond Floyd, United States
"Well, I think there's no question the most memorable thing was the last hole with Langer putting.Who could not forget that?"
Chip Beck, United States
"One thing I remember is those boys going and jumping in the ocean and I was running because I didn't want to get wet and ruin that good suit we had on that day.And Mark O'Meara jumping out there, I thought, man, these guys are crazy. But I remember playing Ian Woosnam.That was one of the greatest experiences of my life. He was the No. 1 player in the world and he was hurt and taking all this pain medication and I'll tell you what, I barely beat him [3 and 1]. It was like I had everything in my favor: I felt great, I was playing great and I barely beat him, so that's how good that boy is. But we had a good time. I think Dave Stockton was a great coach, too."
Hale Irwin, United States
"I think it was a great week for golf. I think that both teams put on quite an exhibition. And I really don't consider either team having won nor lost, simply because when it comes down literally to the last hole of the match to determine the winner or loser, then no one really wins or loses... . The things I remember most are the relationships you build, the competitive relationships that are created and are built and the friendships that follow after the match. That's always been the case in Ryder Cup. The golf course itself, as we know, was relatively new, probably one of the most difficult courses that I'd ever played — considering the circumstances under which we did play, most grueling, most demanding... . I assure you that Sunday night we all were celebrating because, like I said, no one really lost."
Dave Stockton, United States
"Well, obviously, it was a lot of pressure because we hadn't had the Cup back in six years and the impressions and the feelings after we won it back were unbelievable. Another memory was standing on the first tee and wishing everybody good luck and being really thankful I didn't have to go out there and play ... because it was playing very difficult. But there was a lot of pride. It was a neat thing to be able to be the captain, and I think I had probably the greatest team in history. Other than one little limo wreck that derailed a lot of my pairings, it would have been a much less stressful week than it was. Obviously it was a close competition coming down to the last putt, which, truthfully, I didn't expect. I fully thought we were going to win it a lot easier than that."
Begun in 1937, the Senior PGA Championship is the oldest major Championship in senior golf. It was first played at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club at the invitation of the legendary Bobby Jones, and has since become the most prestigious title in senior golf -- with a past Champions roster that features virtually all the greatest players in golf.
Tickets to the 68th Senior PGA Championship are available by calling 800-PGA-GOLF (800-742-4653) or by clicking here.
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29th Ryder Cup Reunion in the 68th Senior PGA Championship
Ryder Cup Captains in the 68th Senior PGA Championship
Seve Ballesteros (1997)
Ben Crenshaw (1999
Raymond Floyd (1989)
Tony Jacklin (1983, '85, '87, '89)
Mark James (1999)
Tom Kite (1997)
Dave Stockton (1991)
Curtis Strange (2002)
Sam Torrance (2002)
Lanny Wadkins (1995)
Tom Watson (1993)