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Five greatest tournaments in Ryder Cup history

Simon Sinclair | September 27, 2016

Greatest ever Ryder Cup tournaments

The 41st Ryder Cup commences on Friday as Europe aim to create history winning the crown for the fourth time on the spin.

However, Davis Love III’s men (odds-on at 8/13 to lift the trophy) will be doing everything in their power to stop that from happening as they seek a first victory since 2008.

There will be high expectations for the tournament to live up to some of its predecessors. Here, Coral take a look at the best competitions in the history of the Ryder Cup…

USA 16 – 16 Great Britain, 1969

The 1969 edition features on our list of greatest ever Ryder Cup tournaments.

The 1969 edition features on our list of greatest ever Ryder Cup tournaments.

The competition was evenly poised going into the final day of singles with the scoreline at 8-8 after the US bounced back twice following poor morning sessions in the foursomes and four-balls.

Great Britain appeared to have done enough to close out their first win since 1957 by winning five of the eight contests in the morning. However, once again Sam Snead’s men rallied the tournament would be decided on the final match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin.

Nicklaus nailed his putt from distance on the 18th to put the pressure on his opponent, only for the 29-year-old to concede to the Englishman, ensuring both players earned half a point. Although the US would win the cup anyway, it was one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship seen at the event.

USA 14 – 14 Europe, 1989

The European team retained the Ryder Cup at the Belfry golf course after the 1989 match ended in a 14-14 tie with the United States team.

The European team retained the Ryder Cup at the Belfry golf course after the 1989 match ended in a 14-14 tie with the United States team.

After a disastrous start to the morning session on day one, Europe ended on a high note with a clean sweep in the afternoon four-balls, putting them 5-3 ahead. They retained their two-point advantage over the next day to head into the singles, needing only five-and-a-half points to record a third outright victory on the bounce.

The contest appeared to be leaning towards Europe as Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark James, Ronan Rafferty, Christy O’Connor Jnr and Jose Maria Canizares won their matches, leaving their side needing only a half to secure the win.

However, the US responded by triumphing in the four remaining games, including Lanny Wadkins’ narrow victory over Nick Faldo to tie the competition.

USA 14 ½ – 13 ½ Europe, 1991

Europe's Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher speaks to the US press.

Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher speaks to the US press.

Europe were always playing catch up in this contest after falling off the pace in the morning session on day one. Only strong efforts in the afternoon sessions in the four-balls kept them in contention as Bernard Gallacher’s men levelled the scores on Saturday at 8-8.

The States needed to find six-and-a-half points to wrestle back the cup from Europe’s clutches, but momentum kept swinging during the singles, leaving the outcome in the balance.

Fred Couples and Watkins put their side in command heading into the final two games where they needed only one victory to triumph, while Gallacher’s team needed Bernhard Langer or Dave Gilford to pull out a win.

However, both European players could only muster a half, allowing the States their first victory since 1983.

USA 13 ½ – Europe 14 ½, 1997

European Ryder Cup team captain Seve Ballesteros congratulates Colin Montgomerie in 1997.

European Ryder Cup team captain Seve Ballesteros congratulates Colin Montgomerie in 1997.

Europe won back the trophy in 1995 with a dramatic win, but their defence would prove to be just as nerve-wracking. Honours were more or less even after the first day of the competition as Seve Ballesteros’ men edged ahead by a point.

However, Europe enjoyed one of their most dominant days on the Saturday, racing into a five-point lead, and requiring only three-and-a-half points to retain the cup. The States came roaring back in the singles, putting the lower half of Ballesteros’ card under pressure.

Fortunately for the Spaniard he had Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie in the rear and between them they managed to drag Europe over the line, with the Scot earning the crucial half that securing the outright victory.

USA 14 ½ – 13 ½ Europe, 1999

Tiger Woods in action back in 1999, when the American was enjoying rampant form.

Tiger Woods in action back in 1999, when the American was enjoying rampant form.

This proved to be one of the most exciting tournaments in the history of the competition, although it will be remembered for a poor act of unprofessionalism from the United States that overshadowed their achievement.

Mark James’ men put together an excellent opening two days, forcing the States on to the back foot trailing by four points ahead of the singles. No team in the history of the Ryder Cup had overturned anything more than a two-point deficit to win the tournament.

However, the USA came out of the blocks, erasing Europe’s lead as Tom Lehmann, Hal Sutton, David Duval, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods all secured huge wins to swing the momentum in their side’s favour.

Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington attempted to turn the tide, but Justin Leonard produced one of the shots of the competition on the 17th green at Brookline to all-but secure the cup. His putt from 45ft travelled the length of the green and nestled in the hole to put the pressure on Olazabal in his effort from 20ft.

The celebrations from the US came before the Spaniard even attempted his shot, which to this day remains one of the darkest moments in the Ryder Cup’s history. Once the green was cleared Olazabal missed his putt, allowing Ben Crenshaw’s men to win back the trophy.

USA 13 ½ – Europe 14 ½, 2012

European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal smiles at a victorious European Ryder Cup press conference.

European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal smiles at a victorious European Ryder Cup press conference.

One of Europe’s finest hours as several players stood up to adversity, none more so than Ian Poulter, who put the team on his back for the first two days to give his team a chance.

The States dominated the first day and a large portion of the second to race into a formidable lead due to the outstanding quality of their putting, despite the best efforts of the Englishman.

However, the tide began to turn when Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald defeated Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, but with potentially facing a five-and-a-half point deficit on the final day Poulter produced his best, holding his nerve on the 18th green to defeat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

The Sunday singles were a complete reversal of the situation at Brookline 13 years previously as Europe erased the States’ lead before Garcia put on the brink by besting Jim Furyk. The Spaniard’s triumph left Martin Kaymer with the chance to retain the cup on the 18th green, and he duly delivered to earn retribution for captain Olazabal and complete the Miracle at Medinah.

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