When the PGA Championship is played next week _ Aug. 9-12 _ it likely will rate as the most important event at the Kiawah Island (S.C.) Golf Resort Ocean Course since the 1991 Ryder Cup.
As of now, only two of the 24 golfers involved in the ’91 Ryder matches are eligible to play in the PGA.
Paul Azinger, now 52, of the winning USA ’91 team and Jose Maria Olazabal, 46, of Team Europe are listed as starters.
That ’91 Ryder Cup was among the most dramatic and memorable ever. The USA won by one point when Bernhard Langer narrowly missed a six-foot putt on the final hole in the final match Sunday (Sept. 29).
Langer and Hale Irwin halved the round, which allowed the Americans to claim the cup for the first time since 1983. The Ryder is played every other year. Europe won outright in ’85 and ’87 and maintained possession after the ’89 matched ended in a 14-14 tie.
The matches at Kiawah were nicknamed the “War on the Shore” after that ‘89 tourney at the The Belfry in England ended amid much tension. Azinger and Europe’s Seve Ballesteros were openly critical of each other’s on-course antics and tactics.
The Ocean Course, officially opened in 1991, is an infrant as most major tournament host sites go. A par 72 designed by Pete Dye, the layout can play to almost 7,400 yards. And if the wind is brisk off the ocean, high scores and erratic fly paths are common.
Keep in mind that mid August is prime Atlantic storm season, too.
Since Kiawah in ’91, the USA has gone 3-6 entering the 2012 Cup at Medinah (Ill.) Sept. 28-30.
Following are the 1991 rosters:
•USA (14.5 points)
Captain: Dave Stockton
•EUROPE (13.5 points)
Seve Ballesteros (Spain)
Paul Broadhurst (England)
Nick Faldo (England)
David Feherty (Northern Ireland)
David Gilford (England)
Mark James (England)
Bernhard Langer (Germany)
Colin Montgomery (Scotland)
Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain)
Steve Richardson (England)
Sam Torrance (Scotland)
Ian Woosman (Wales)
Captain: Bernard Gallacher (Scotland)