When Jim Gallagher Jr. returned home from his only appearance in the Ryder Cup in 1993, he was greeted by his 2-year-old daughter Mary Langdon, who was wearing a shirt that read, “My daddy beat Seve.”
Gallagher, who will serve as a hole announcer for NBC Sports’ coverage of next week’s Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club outside Rome, was a member of the last U.S. team that beat Europe on foreign soil. That team, which rallied for a 15-13 victory at The Belfry, in Sutton Coldfield, England, also included NBC lead analyst Paul Azinger.
Beating Seve Ballesteros was, of course, a big deal considering that Gallagher was a rookie while Ballesteros, a five-time major winner, was a stalwart of the European team and its emotional catalyst. Gallagher’s upset win was one of 7½ points the U.S. registered in singles to retain the Cup it had won in 1991 at Kiawah Island.
“It was really something seeing that sweet little girl wearing that t-shirt,” Gallagher, 62, said during a conference call Thursday previewing NBC’s Ryder Cup coverage. “That actually kind of hit me, I actually did beat Seve. That took my confidence to a whole new level.
Indeed it did. Gallagher, who won five times on the PGA Tour, won the Tour Championship a month later. Mary Langdon greeted her father with another t-shirt. This one read: “My daddy beat them all.”
Gallagher, who was one of 10 players to qualify on points for captain Tom Watson’s team in 1993, remembers being fired up for the matches even before the team arrived. “Before we landed on the Concorde, I remember him [Watson] saying, ‘They may have created the game over here, but we perfected it.’ I was ready to parachute off the plane. I was ready to go.”
Early in the week Gallagher was thinking to himself, “What have I gotten myself into?” He credits the veterans on that U.S. team—Azinger, Ray Floyd, Tom Kite, Payne Stewart and Lanny Wadkins—with facilitating camaraderie and a positive team environment. “They put us [newcomers] on an equal level,” he said. “And I thought that was what was so magical about it.”
He ended up going 2-1, which included a four-ball victory with Corey Pavin on Saturday afternoon. Then came his clutch 3-and-2 win over Ballesteros after the U.S. entered singles trailing by a point.
The U.S. hasn’t won in Europe since.
The whereabouts of the t-shirt are unknown, but it is burned into Gallagher’s memory. “It was priceless,” he said. “It’s one of those moments you always cherish.”
This article was originally published on golfdigest.com