Ryder Cup Aces: How Many Holes-In-One, and Who Made the First?

The first hole-in-one at the Ryder Cup - and all the rest, too

Peter Butler and Brian Barnes at the 1973 Ryder Cup
Peter Butler (left) was partnering Brian Barnes (right) when Butler made the first ace in Ryder Cup history at the 1973 match. Don Morley/Getty Images

The Ryder Cup was first played in 1927, but it took until the 1973 matches for the event to have its first hole-in-one. And the golfer who got that first ace? Peter Butler of Team Great Britain & Ireland.

Butler was partnering Brian Barnes in the Day 2 foursomes against the United States team of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. On the 16th hole at the Muirfield Links Butler used a 3-iron to tee off on the 188-yard hole.

And aced it. (Coincidentally, Nicklaus' Muirfield Village - named in homage to Muirfield - was just a few months away from opening in Ohio.)

It was the seventh ace of Butler's career (he won 14 tournaments on the British and European PGA circuits that preceded formation of the European Tour) and, of course, won the hole for his side. But it wasn't enough: the Nicklaus/Weiskopf team won the match by a 1-up score.

Butler wasn't scheduled to play in that match - Bernard Gallacher was originally pencilled in as Barnes' partner. But Gallacher developed a stomach ailment and was dropped from the pairing 90 minutes prior to the tee time.

All Ryder Cup Aces

So far, there have only been six holes-in-one scoring during Ryder Cup matches:

  • Peter Butler, 1973: 16th hole at Muirfield, second Day 2 foursomes match (Butler and Brian Barnes vs. Jack Nicklaus/Tom Weiskopf
  • Nick Faldo, 1993: 14th hole at The Belfry, Day 3 singles match (Faldo vs. Paul Azinger)
  • Constantino Rocca, 1995: 6th hole at Oak Hill, Day 2 foursomes match (Rocca and Sam Torrance vs. Davis Love III/Jeff Maggert)
  • Howard Clark, 1995: 11th hole at Oak Hill, Day 3 singles match (Clark vs. Peter Jacobsen)
  • Paul Casey, 2006: 14th hole at The K Club, Day 2 foursomes (Casey and David Howell vs. Stewart Cink/Zach Johnson)
  • Scott Verplank, 2006: 14th hole at The K Club, Day 3 singles (Verplank vs. Padraig Harrington)

A few things pop out from this list:

So far three of the six aces have come in foursomes, three in singles. No holes-in-one have yet happened in a Ryder Cup fourball.

After going through the 1993 Ryder Cup with just two aces, there were two at the 1995 Cup and two more in 2006.

The 14th hole at The Belfry is the only hole in Ryder Cup history to be the site of more than one ace.

Only one of the six aces to date was scored by an American golfer.

How Many of the Acers Won His Match?

As noted above, Butler's side lost, 1-down, in the match during which the first-ever Ryder Cup ace occurred. How did the other acers fare?

Turns out Butler is the only one of the six acers who lost his match. Rocca's side won 6 and 5; Clark beat Jacobsen, 1-up; Casey's side won 5 and 4; and Verplank won 4 and 3.

And Nick Faldo in 1993? Faldo didn't win, but he didn't lose, either: he halved with Azinger.

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