Ryder Cup Countdown — the All Name Team, Europe Edition
Other Ryder Cup stuff: Venue Wishlist, Pre-Tournament Superlatives, Alternate Proposed Formats, U.S. All-Name Team
After setting forth the top 12 names in U.S. Ryder Cup history here, it’s only fair to give the same consideration to the European squad. Unlike the Americans, who only have one (albeit large) nation to draw upon, the Euros have fielded golfers from 13 countries, creating a deep and diverse pool of monikers from which to draw.
And while many in the American list made it simply based on their inherent “American-ness” (Bubba Watson and Boo Weekley come to mind), the guys below make the grade for a variety of reasons. Some have names that represent their home country so perfectly that they demand inclusion; some project strength, power, and an air of victory; and some are just plain fun to say.
Let’s get into it.
Rory McIlroy — 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018
Rory is a household name, and might well go down as the greatest European golfer of all time. His name is perfectly Irish (as is another player’s name below), unique enough to call him by just the first name, and it kind of rolls off the tongue in a nice way. Also, we don’t talk nearly enough about how his name is extremely close to Roy McAvoy, Kevin Costner’s character in Tin Cup, which came out when Rory was 7. Serendipity.
Seve Ballesteros — 1979, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995
Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros Sota, known the world over as Seve Ballesteros (or simply Seve), was a European stalwart for more than a decade and can be credited with reviving the competitive spirit of the Ryder Cup. He also had a supremely melodious name, one that fit his dashing style of play and boisterous personality perfectly. There are only a handful of instantly recognizable one-named golfers out there, and Seve firmly deserves his place alongside Arnie, Jack, Tiger, Phil, and Rory.
Aubrey Boomer — 1927, 1929
An outrageously great golf name. Aubrey Boomer hailed from Jersey, a little island off the south coast of England (not Bruce Springsteen’s home), played in the first two Ryder Cups, and sported an exaggerated stance that surely produced some surface to air missiles. Appropriate for a man with the surname Boomer.
Niclas Fasth — 2002
Sporting hero, as that photo tag suggests? To some, perhaps. Owner of a Patrick Reed-style helicopter follow-through? Most definitely. But to me, Niclas Fasth will always be the guy whose name sounds like you’re trying to say “Nick was fast” with peanut butter in your mouth. Try it and tell me I’m wrong.
Tommy Fleetwood — 2018
Look at that Aragorn-lookin’ MFer with his rope hat, blade collar, and flowing locks. If they ever make some sort of wacky religious comedy about Jesus playing the Devil in a skins game for the fate of humanity, I think we’ve found our body double for the golf scenes. Also, as a Robbie, I’m partial to grown men with nicknames for first names. Going by Tommy shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously (if the hair didn’t already), and Fleetwood is an inarguably cool last name, both on its own merits and for its connection to the band. Sidenote — When Tommy’s caddie ever tells him to just hack it out of the rough and take his medicine, I bet Tommy says, “Just lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff.”
Padraig Harrington — 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010
Another longtime mainstay in the European squad, Padraig Harrington is just the absolute best. Watch this video and tell me you don’t love the guy.
He has a hilariously flutey voice, he’s constantly laughing, he tries weird range hacks like hitting a shot and then stepping through onto his right foot, and he’s got perhaps the most Irish name possible without an apostrophe. What’s not to love?
Guy Hunt — 1975
Guy Hunt made the squad only once during his career, and it’s a good thing he did, as he’s now included in this star-studded team. If Richard Connell had wanted to sap most of the suspense and surprise out of his world-renowned short story The Most Dangerous Game, he could have just called it Guy Hunt.
Herbert Jolly — 1927, 1931
Ol’ Herbert certainly lived up to his name, as evidenced by the shit-eating, pipe-smoking grin up there. Jolly competed in the first and third Ryder Cup matches after returning from combat in WWI. He once beat Walter Hagen in a 36-hole final for the Yorkshire Evening News Tournament, finished T-8 in the 1923 Open Championship, and lived to the ripe old age of 88. Truly a wonderful life for a jolly man. Also, he hailed from the channel island of Guernsey — where have all the channel island golfers gone?
José María Olazábal — 1989, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2006
A man who deserves every one of the three accent marks over his supremely Spanish moniker, JMO formed a nearly unbeatable partnership with countryman Seve Ballesteros. I’m partial to any man who can confidently rock a female name, which means I have to mention Jose Maria Canizares here as well, though the Castellan pronunciation of “Oh-la-thah-bull” puts Olazabal over the top.
Jarmo Sandelin — 1999
There’s really not much to say here. His name was Jarmo (pronounced Yarmo) Sandelin (pronounced Sandelin). He was on the losing side in the controversy-laden Battle of Brookline in 1999. He wore the dumbest piece of headwear ever seen on a golf course. Though fortunately he didn’t wear them during the actual Cup.
Percy Alliss — 1929, 1933, 1935, 1935
A stern chap. Father of Peter. Englishman through and through. The name Percy Alliss just drips with tea, biscuit crumbs, primary school paddlings, factory smoke, warm beer, old Scotch, dark sweaters, and Christmas puddings.
Thorbjorn Olesen — 2018
Rounding out the squad is Thorbjorn Olesen, whose stupid mushroom-shaped head should not distract you from his layers of rippling arm muscles. This Dane’s name translates as “Thunder Bear,” which is absolutely incredible, but also a pretty cocky move by his parents. You’d hate to see a guy named Thunder Bear working at the local grocery store, for example. I’m sure his parents are very proud of his success, but there’s got to be some measure of relief in there as well. Their little thunder cub is all growed up.
Harry Bannerman — sounds like an extra in a Game of Thrones battle scene
Peter Dawson — Had a kid named Pete Dawson in our high school. Go Sailors
Victor Dubuisson and Jean Van de Velde — The most French names ever
Malcolm Gregson — I just like this one
Joakim Haeggman — This is fun too
Jack Hargreaves — Upcoming defender for Arsenal’s youth squad
Per-Ulrik Johansson — If he shortened it he could be P.U.
Sandy Lyle — Very good golf name, although it represents a rough break if that lie is in a fairway divot
Peter Oosterhuis — Great place for a cup of clam chowder