'War by the Shore' captain Stockton: see Ryder Cup course

·3-min read

Thirty years after a "War by the Shore" victory, US captain Dave Stockton has a message for future Ryder Cup golfers -- play the host course ahead of time.

The 79-year-old two-time major winner recalled the 1991 US-Europe showdown on Wednesday at Kiawah Island, where the 103rd PGA Championship tees off Thursday.

The windy Ocean course was only a few months old when the Americans edged Europe 14 1/2-13 1/2 in a matchup filled with gamesmanship and spats, winning back the trophy after its longest absence from US soil following two losses and a 1989 draw.

"It was stressful times for us because it had been six years since the Cup had been back," Stockton said.

"I enjoyed them flying over and circling the course with the Concorde, bringing the Cup back to where I thought it belonged. We got to keep it here, which made it memorable for us for sure."

Stockton was surpised that European players never visited the course early to see the windy conditions that would prevail, not even after the Masters or a nearby PGA event.

"The Europeans never came in and played a practice round, which I couldn't understand, because I just think this is such a difficult golf course with the winds," Stockton said.

With the next Ryder Cup only four months away at Whistling Straits, players from both teams will be familiar with the layout, a host of three PGA Championships.

"Now we come up to Whistling Straits shortly and the European players have played it just as much as we have so we're going to have our hands full," said Stockton, who hopes US players remain mindful come 2023 in Italy.

"I'm hoping in two years' time in Rome that a bunch of our guys play the Italian Open that's going to be played at that golf course so we don't walk in and get shellshocked."

Stockton said he disliked the "War by the Shore" nickname, noting the teams met for a Tuesday cookout before the start and a Sunday dinner after the epic conclusion, which saw Germany's Bernhard Langer miss a six-foot par putt with the Cup on the line.

"I had my head down the whole time. I knew he was going to make it," Stockton said. "There's no way I was going to root against him not to make.

"I was basically mad at (Europe captain Bernard) Gallacher to put somebody whose stress is their putting in the last spot.

"To put that pressure on Langer and to have him miss it, it made for a thrilling finish, but I was really disappointed."

Stockton recalled Europe's handling of the heartbreaking defeat.

"They were much more gracious in defeat than I think we would have been. They were unbelievable," he said.

He noted how both teams had filled one bus instead of taking separate vehicles to the dinner and Welshman Ian Woosnam found a seating solution for the near-full bus by grabbing US rival Corey Pavin.

"Woosie turns to me and says, 'Stocky, not to worry, Pavin is so small I'll carry him on,'" Stockton said. "He picked Pavin up and carried him right on the bus, and we rode in one bus."


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