The 2013 Gainey Ranch Ryder Cup competition was spirited and exciting. It was marked by some miraculous shots, great weather, a course in excellent condition and the biggest field ever. Six fourteen man teams fought it out, but when the last ball rolled in, Team Italy proved to be the dominant force in the field. Kurt Saulnier captained the Italian team with Gary Anzalone, Andy Anderson, Sandy Wiener, Mike Nichols, Greg Luce, George Lahood, Howard Garr, Dan Hourihan, Al Rivard, Tom Hansen, Ron Dobkin, Jim Woods and Nick De Santis. They were unbeatable as they ran away from the field with 231½ points. The second place team, Team USA, captained by John Herold was 19 points back. Team Spain with Rick Brown at the helm fell from second to third place on the last day finishing 21½ points behind the leaders. Tournament photos.
Perhaps the shot of the tournament came from Gene Kloeckner. When playing Team Canada, Kloeckner watched as his opponent’s tee shot on #6 Arroyo rolled toward the hole and came to rest for an easy birdie putt. Kloeckner hooked his ball hard left. It came to rest amidst the bushes next to the wall marking the course boundary. It sat precariously in the rocks. At that point in time, no rational human being would have given Team Ireland a ghost’s chance in hell of salvaging the hole.
Were it not for the fact that Gene had to hit the ball off of the rocks from out of the bushes, it wouldn’t have been a tough shot. Well except that it had to clear the cart path and the cavernous sand trap that guarded the green and somehow land in a small patch of rough well above the hole that would slow it down enough to keep it out of the lake that awaited errant shots just past the hole. Still, it would have been a relatively easy shot for Phil Mickelson (if he had 500 balls) or perhaps makeable by the ghost of Sam Snead or Byron Nelson. True that Kloeckner had almost no green to work with, but at least it was fast, severely breaking toward the water and very much downhill.
So naturally, Gene somehow managed to chip the ball 30 yards over the trap and into the hole for birdie. Team Canada made its birdie so the hole was halved, however, Team Ireland won the mental match right there.
Maybe no shot matched Kloeckner’s, but there were stories galore of heroic performances and putts that found the hole from a different time zone. A great tournament indeed.
There was a profound impact on the Gainey Cup standings. With one event remaining Jim Woods has moved to the top of the list. You can see the complete results here.