By News Team
1st September 2021
The Ryder Cup typically produces some of the fiercest competition, tension and drama seen on a golf course. In the build up to this year’s competition at Whistling Straits, we look back at five Ryder Cups that had it all.
1985 – The Belfry – US dominance ended
Before 1979 the Ryder Cup was contested by the US and Great Britain & Ireland, but 1985 marked Europe’s first win at only the fourth attempt.
The Spanish pairing of Seve Ballesteros and Manuel Pinero scored three from a possible four points in the pairs matches on the first two days, meaning Europe went into the Sunday with a two-point lead.
On the final day, it was left to captain Sam Torrance to secure an early success for Europe as he rolled in a 22-foot putt on the eighteenth to defeat Andy North, leaving the US six points behind with five matches still on the course.
It was a historic moment for Europe and marked the US’s first defeat since 1957.
1991 – Kiawah Island – ‘War by the Shore’
Perhaps the closest Ryder Cup ever played saw the US win back the trophy on the 18th hole of the final match. US sportsmanship and fiery competition in North Carolina led to the match becoming known as the “War by the Shore”.
After two days play the scores were tied eight-all. The US took a slender advantage in the singles matches on the final day as they led 6-5 but still needed half a point from the final match to ensure victory.
The final stroke of the tournament fell to Bernard Langer who knew Europe would retain the trophy if he could sink a six-foot putt, to tie the match. However, his ball rolled agonisingly around the lip of the hole but did not drop, sealing the first US win in eight years.
1999 – Brookline – ‘Battle of Brookline’
A European win looked a formality as they held a 10-6 lead going into the final day at Brookline, Massachusetts, but a remarkable day of play saw the US claw back the advantage, meaning the competition rested on the final few matches.
Jose Maria Olazabal appeared to have his match with Justin Leonard in safekeeping, four up with seven holes to play. However, he lost the next three holes to Leonard with the American holing a 40-foot putt on the fifteenth to square the match.
On the 17th green Leonard found himself a similar distance from the hole, but fired in an unlikely birdie, sparking wild celebrations from the US team.
As the US team and fans flooded the green, Olazabal still had a 25-foot putt to ensure the match continued to the final hole. However, the Spaniard, possibly rattled by the scenes of premature jubilation, rolled his putt wide. The US had completed a remarkable comeback.
2006 – K Club – Darren Clarke fires Europe to an emotional victory
Darren Clarke had taken a three-month break from golf after his wife lost her battle with cancer and was a surprise wildcard pick by Europe captain Ian Woosman.
Despite the circumstances, the Northern-Irishman produced a rousing performance, winning his two pairs matches, before defeating the US’s Zach Johnson 3&2 in his singles match.
Spurred on by his courage, Europe raced away to an 18½-9½ victory, which Woosman dedicated to Clarke’s late wife, Heather. It was an emotional triumph and as Clarke mentioned afterwards “I doubt there was a dry eye in the house.”
2012 – Medinah – ‘Miracle at Medinah’
Widely considered one of the great sporting comebacks, the “Miracle at Medinah” saw a European team rally to overturn an impossible looking 4-10 deficit.
They were largely spurred on by the brilliance and never-say-die attitude of Ian Poulter, who won all his four matches, including a remarkable four-ball victory when playing alongside Rory McIlroy.
The pair trailed Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner by two with six holes to play, but a fired-up Poulter found his Ryder Cup form and birdied the next five holes to win the match.
The momentum had swung Europe’s way as they took 8½ points from a possible 12 on the final day to win the match by a single point.