Ryder Cup Has Decades of Drama Between United States and Europe

It began in 1927 and has had many nail-biters over its almost 100 years. Here are some of them.

Nothing is at stake — no prize money, individual titles or world ranking points — for the 24 players who will participate in the 2023 Ryder Cup, which begins on Friday at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome.

Nothing and everything.

The members of Team Europe and the United States will play for something bigger and as we’ve seen, in recent decades especially, the biennial three-day match-play competition, which began in 1927, is bound to generate memories.

Here, in chronological order, are 10 Ryder Cups that stand out.

The course in Southport was packed with about 15,000 spectators, and they weren’t cheated.

The outcome came down to the final hole of the singles match between Syd Easterbrook of England and Denny Shute of the United States. With their match even, both players faced par putts of roughly 30 feet.

Easterbook, who went first, missed his attempt. All Shute had to do was two-putt, and the United States would retain the Cup.

Shute knocked his putt four feet by the hole and missed the next one, too, handing the victory to the British team. The rest of Europe wouldn’t be included in the Ryder Cup until 1979.

The American golfer Sam Snead in 1949 at Ganton Golf Club in England.S&G/PA Images, via Getty Images

The Americans had the great Ben Hogan on their side, but as the captain, not as a player.

Hogan was still recovering from a car accident that would keep him on the sidelines until 1950. Also unable to play was Cary Middlecoff, the United States Open champion who wasn’t a member of the P.G.A. of America.

Even so, the United States, because it captured six of the eight singles matches, rallied from two points down to win the Ryder Cup for the fourth time in a row at the course in northeast England. The major champions Sam Snead, Jimmy Demaret and Lloyd Mangrum were among the winners.

There wasn’t any one shot that makes this year so memorable.

It was, rather, a gesture of sportsmanship.

It came from Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of his singles match versus Tony Jacklin at the course near Manchester. Nicklaus picked up Jacklin’s ball mark to concede a two-foot putt that left their match, and the overall competition, all square. The United States, because it was the defending champion, retained the Cup.

“Here he was, the [British] Open champion, the new hero, and all of a sudden it felt like if he missed this putt he would be criticized forever,” Nicklaus later said. “This all went through my mind in a very, very quick period of time, and I said, ‘I’m not going to give Tony Jacklin the opportunity to miss it.’”

Jack Nicklaus, left, and Tony Jacklin after a singles match at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in 1969.PA Images, via Getty Images

One sensational shot was hit by the young Spaniard Seve Ballesteros; the other by an American, Lanny Wadkins at the course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

From a fairway bunker 240 yards away on the par-5 18th hole, Ballesteros sent the ball to the fringe of the green, and from there he was able to get a par and halve his match with Fuzzy Zoeller.

Wadkins knocked the ball from 60 yards away to within a foot on the 18th hole to then halve his match with José María Cañizares and clinch a one-point victory for the United States.

With Jacklin as the captain, Team Europe captured the Ryder Cup on this course near Birmingham for the first time since 1957. The period of American dominance was over.

Two players from Spain, Ballesteros and Manuel Piñero, were outstanding. Piñero won four points for the Europeans, while Ballesteros, one of the game’s brightest stars then, collected three and a half points.

Craig Stadler, a former Masters champion, also played well, though he missed a short putt on Saturday morning that cost the United States an important half point. Team Europe went on to win three of the four afternoon foursome matches to take a 9-7 lead into Sunday.

The Spaniards Manuel Piñero, Seve Ballesteros, José María Cañizares and José Rivero after Team Europe won in 1985 at the Belfry in England.David Cannon/Allsport, via Getty Images

For the first time, the United States lost on its own soil. The final: 15 to 13.

The Americans had been 13-0 at home before coming up short on the course near Columbus, Ohio, that was designed by Jack Nicklaus, the U.S. captain. Down by five points, the U.S. team rallied in the singles, but the deficit was too large.

Ballesteros was in top form again for the Europeans, earning four points in five matches. Contributing with three and a half points apiece were Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam; Sandy Lyle and José María Olazábal won three points.

On the other side, Ben Crenshaw was 0-3, while Tom Kite and Hal Sutton were the only Americans with three points.

In the end, it came down to one putt at the Ocean Course in South Carolina.

The putt was from six feet away, and if Langer were to knock it in, he would win his match over the three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, and Team Europe would keep the Cup.

If he were to miss, the United States would take possession for the first time since 1983. It is difficult to imagine a player feeling more pressure. Even in a major tournament.

Langer missed, and the Europeans returned the Cup to the Americans, not winning it back until 1995.

Bernhard Langer of Germany after he missed a putt on the 18th hole in the final singles match in 1991 at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in the United States.David Cannon/Getty Images

Trailing by four points entering the singles matches on the final day, the United States captain, Crenshaw, still believed in his team.

With good reason.

The Americans picked up eight and a half points on Sunday to edge Team Europe by one. Among those who came through with big victories were Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and David Duval.

The event, held just outside Boston, also provided its share of controversy with the U.S. players rushing onto the 17th green after Justin Leonard made a birdie putt from 45 feet. The match, and the competition itself, however, wasn’t over just yet. Olazábal faced a birdie putt of his own that would have kept the players all square heading to 18. He missed.

As it did in 1991, the Ryder Cup, staged for the first time in Wales, came down to the final singles match, with Europe’s Graeme McDowell squaring off against Hunter Mahan of the United States.

After knocking in a 15-foot birdie at the 16th hole to go two up, McDowell prevailed when Mahan struggled on 17.

The Europeans had a three-point lead heading into the final day, but had to hang on as Woods, Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Zach Johnson put full points on the board for the United States. Another key contributor was Rickie Fowler, who rallied to secure a half point against Edoardo Molinari.

A view of the 18th green at Medinah Country Club in 2012.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It felt a lot like 1999.

Only this time, it was Team Europe’s turn to come back from a four-point deficit heading into the 12 singles matches on Sunday, and on its opponent’s territory, no less.

With clutch victories on the course just outside Chicago by Justin Rose over Mickelson, Sergio Garcia over Jim Furyk, and Martin Kaymer over Steve Stricker, Europe outscored the United States eight and a half to three and a half on the final day. Only Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner won their matches for the United States.

Kaymer of Germany clinched the victory with a six-foot putt on the 18th green.

Source: Golf -


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