|Full name||Ronan Patrick Rafferty|
|Born||13 January 1964|
Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight||189 lb (86 kg; 13.5 st)|
|Residence||Gleneagles, Scotland, UK|
|Current tour(s)||European Seniors Tour|
|Former tour(s)||European Tour|
|Number of wins by tour|
|PGA Tour of Australasia||5|
|Best results in major championships|
|Masters Tournament||T14: 1990|
|U.S. Open||63rd: 1990|
|The Open Championship||T9: 1984|
|PGA Championship||CUT: 1990|
|Achievements and awards|
Order of Merit winner
Rafferty was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. He won the Boys Amateur Championship aged 15, qualified for the Open Championship at age 16, and played in the 1981 Walker Cup aged 17. He tied for first place with Peter McEvoy in the 1980 English Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the Brabazon Trophy. According to Rafferty, as an amateur he and future pro Philip Walton had the best handicaps in the country.
Rafferty was briefly one of the best professional golfers in Europe. Between 1987 and 1993, he won 12 official tournaments around the world: five in Australia, seven in Europe. He led the 1989 European Tour Order of Merit and qualified for the 1989 Ryder Cup team. By the early 1990s, he came close to breaking the then-record for consecutive cuts made on the European Tour. He also spent over 100 weeks ranking inside the top 25 of the Official World Golf Ranking between 1989 and 1993.
Rafferty joined the European Tour in 1982. He first year was solid (if unremarkable) with one top ten and 48th ranking on the Order of Merit. He also recorded a victory at the Venezuela Open. Although it was an unofficial victory it was nonetheless provided him with his first win. His second season, in 1983, inaugurated an excellent stretch that lasted throughout the 1980s. In eight straight seasons, he finished in the top 30 of the Order of Merit and recorded at least six top-10s per year.
He struggled at coming through down the stretch, however. He recorded an astonishing 62 top-10s before his first European Tour victory. This included a playoff loss to compatriot David Feherty at the 1986 Lancia Italian Open.
He had better luck winning down under, however, recording two wins on the 1987 Australasian Tour. The second victory was at the New Zealand Open where he defeated defending PGA Championship winner Larry Nelson in a playoff. He was the first European to win New Zealand's national open since the 1920s. He also won the 1988 Australian Match Play Championship, defeating Australian Michael Clayton in the finals.
After knocking on the door for years, Rafferty would finally win in Europe in 1989. He avenged his 1986 playoff loss at the Italian Open with a one stroke win over Sam Torrance. This would be Rafferty's best season, as he would win an additional two events and record a 15 top-10 finishes. At the end of the year he won the Volvo Masters, the most prestigious win of his career, defeating Nick Faldo by one shot. He would go on to win the European Tour Order of Merit. He would also finish atop the 1989 Ryder Cup standings and play in his only Ryder Cup that year at The Belfry. Although Rafferty did not play great (he lost both team matches he played) he won his singles match against defending Open Championship winner Mark Calcavecchia on the 18th hole for a 1up win. This tight win proved indispensable as the European team struggled on the last day and only barely retained the cup with a 14–14 tie.
In 1990 was another great season for Rafferty. He won the Coca-Cola Classic, PLM Open, and Ebel European Masters Swiss Open, recorded two runner-ups, and had 12 top-10s in 30 official events. His excellent play earned him a special foreign invitation to play the Masters for the first time. In the spring he reached his career peak of #16 in the Official World Golf Ranking after a tie for 6th at the Belgian Open. He also qualified for the U.S. Open and PGA Championship; he was the first Irish pro to play in the U.S. Open since the 1940s.
The remainder of the early 1990s would see Rafferty vacillate between brief stretches of greatness and longer stretches of mediocrity. Although he recorded six official top-10s, including a distant runner-up finish at the European Pro-Celebrity pro-am, 1991 was a bit of a letdown. For the first time in five years, Rafferty did not win an official international event. He missed a European Tour cut for the first time in years at the Spanish Open. His play at the majors was especially weak. He missed the cut at the Masters, abruptly withdrew from the U.S. Open in the middle of the second round, and failed to qualify for the Open Championship for the first time since the beginning of his career. His withdrawal from the U.S. Open was particularly contentious and he was fined by the European Tour. By the end of season he was in danger of leaving the top 50 in the world rankings.
The beginning of the 1992 season suddenly saw Rafferty go on perhaps the hottest stretch of his career. He finished no worse than second place in five consecutive worldwide events: a victory at the Daikyo Palm Meadows Cup for his final win in Australia; a tie for second at the European-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Classic in Bangkok, Thailand; a playoff loss to Seve Ballesteros at the Dubai Desert Classic; a runner-up to American legend Tom Watson at the Hong Kong Open; and finally a victory at the Portuguese Open. His world ranking would peak again at #16 after his win in Portugal.
The culmination of this period also marked the beginning of a slow decline that would persist to the end of his career. In the heart of the season, playing in more challenging European and American events, Rafferty could not keep up, missing the cut in most of the events he played and, when he made the cut, usually finishing near the bottom.
1993 marked a brief return to form. After recording some high finishes in minor European and South African events in late 1992/early 1993, Rafferty recorded a number of top-10s in the middle of the 1993 European season. This would culminate with a victory at the 1993 Hohe Brucke Austrian Open. Rafferty would finish the season ranked inside the global top 50.
The 1994 season, however, would mark the beginning of the end of his career as a touring professional. His victory in Austria would be his last. He recorded only two top-10s in 26 European events and failed to finish in the top 50 of the Order of Merit for the first time.
Rafferty maintained full-time status for three more years and recorded a spate of top 10s but could come close to matching his 1980s heyday. In 1997 broken bones in his left hand severely affected his play. After the 1997 season, he failed to enter the top 100 of the Order of Merit again. He would retire as a touring professional after the 2003 season.
In 1987, while playing on the Australasian Tour during the European Tour offseason, he lived with the family of Australian pro Ian Baker-Finch. During this time, Rafferty became a connoisseur of Australian wine. He remains a noted wine collector.
Professional wins (14)
European Tour wins (7)
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||21 May 1989||Lancia Italian Open||−15 (71-69-68-65=273)||1 stroke||Sam Torrance|
|2||6 Aug 1989||Scandinavian Enterprise Open||−20 (70-69-64-65=268)||2 strokes||Michael Allen|
|3||29 Oct 1989||Volvo Masters||−6 (72-69-70-71=282)||1 stroke||Nick Faldo|
|4||5 Aug 1990||PLM Open||−18 (64-67-70-69=270)||4 strokes||Vijay Singh|
|5||2 Sep 1990||Ebel European Masters Swiss Open||−21 (70-65-66-66=267)||2 strokes||John Bland|
|6||22 Mar 1992||Portuguese Open||−15 (67-71-67-68=273)||1 stroke||Anders Forsbrand|
|7||15 Aug 1993||Hohe Brucke Austrian Open||−14 (65-69-72-68=274)||Playoff||Anders Sørensen|
European Tour playoff record (1–4)
|1||1986||Italian Open||David Feherty||Lost to birdie on second extra hole|
|2||1989||KLM Dutch Open||Roger Chapman, José María Olazábal||Olazábal won with double-bogey on ninth extra hole|
Chapman eliminated by par on first hole
|3||1990||Atlantic Open|| Richard Boxall, Stephen Hamill,
Stephen McAllister, Anders Sørensen,
|McAllister won with par on first extra hole|
|4||1992||Dubai Desert Classic||Seve Ballesteros||Lost to birdie on second extra hole|
|5||1993||Hohe Brucke Austrian Open||Anders Sørensen||Won with par on first extra hole|
PGA Tour of Australasia wins (5)
- 1987 West End South Australian Open, Nissan-Mobil New Zealand Open
- 1988 Australian Match Play Championship
- 1990 Coca-Cola Classic
- 1992 Daikyo Palm Meadows Cup
Other wins (2)
Results in major championships
|The Open Championship||CUT||61||T9||T44||T21||CUT||T38||T61||T31||T39||T11||CUT|
CUT = missed the half-way cut
WD = Withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place
|The Open Championship||0||0||0||0||1||3||12||9|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 5 (1988 Open Championship – 1990 Open Championship)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 1
- Eisenhower Trophy (representing Great Britain and Ireland): 1980
- St Andrews Trophy (representing Great Britain and Ireland): 1980 (winners)
- Walker Cup (representing Great Britain and Ireland): 1981
- World Cup (representing Ireland): 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
- Hennessy Cognac Cup (representing Ireland): 1984
- Dunhill Cup (representing Ireland): 1986, 1987, 1988 (winners), 1989, 1990 (winners), 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995
- Four Tours World Championship (representing Europe): 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 (winners)
- Ryder Cup (representing Europe): 1989
- Record: 3 matches, 1 point (33% point percentage)
- All formats (W–L–H): 1–2–0 = 1 pt
- Singles: 1–0–0 = 1pt
- Foursomes: 0–2–0 = 0pts
- Fourballs: 0–0–0 = 0pts
- "A firebrand still shooting from the hip". The Irish Times. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
- "Ronan Rafferty". Official World Golf Ranking.
- "Ronan Rafferty". European Tour. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
- "Ronan Rafferty – 1989". Official World Golf Ranking.
- Swift, E.M. (2 October 1989). "Fit to Be Tied". Sports Illustrated.
- "Ronan Rafferty – 1990". Official World Golf Ranking.
- Kelly, Liam (15 June 2015). "How Ronan Rafferty paved way for Irish glory at US Open". The Independent.
- "Ronan Rafferty – 1991". Official World Golf Ranking.
- "Ronan Rafferty – 1992". Official World Golf Ranking.
- "Ronan Rafferty – 1993". Official World Golf Ranking.
- Reason, Mark (15 June 2002). "No sadness on Rafferty's golf odyssey". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 11 May 2019.