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The Battle of Brookline to the Miracle of Medinah - Ranking the most dramatic Ryder Cups

Ahead of this year’s edition, we take a look at the most dramatic Ryder Cups.

5. The Belfry, England (2002)

Europe 15.5 beat the United States 12.5

Source: Setanta Sports/YouTube

AFTER THE DRAMA of the previous tournament at Brookline, and the subsequent September 11 terrorist attacks, a lot of effort was made to calm tensions between the teams in 2002 and it looked as if the US would defend their title when they entered the Sunday singles tied 8-8.

However, despite being massive underdogs, Europe would triumph as Sam Torrance – who opted to put all his best players out first – watched his side take 4.5 of the first six points available against a USA side who back-loaded their team.

After Phillip Price beat Phil Mickelson 3 & 2, it was left to Ireland’s Paul McGinley – who had been trailing Jim Furyk from the second hole – to sink a 10-foot putt on the 18th and seal the Ryder Cup for the home side.

4. The Belfry, England (1985)

Europe 16.5 beat the United Sates 11.5

Source: Ryder Cup/YouTube

Given Europe’s dominance in the tournament in recent years, it seems odd that victory in 1985 handed the United States their first Ryder Cup loss since 1957.

It looked like it would be the same old story for Europe when the trailed 3-1 after the Friday morning foursomes. However, by Saturday night, they had not only fought back but established a 9-7 lead.

Despite losses for Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam – as well as Seve Ballesteros only halving with Tom Kite – when Sam Torrance reached the 18th green he knew he had three putts from 18 feet to secure his team’s first victory in 28 years.

3. Kiawah Island, South Carolina (1991)

The United States 14.5 beat Europe 13.5

Source: donald mcleod/YouTube

This one wasn’t known as the ‘War on the Shore’ for nothing. The drama at Kiawah Island started in advance of the 1991 Ryder Cup when Steve Pate suffered minor injuries in a crash.

The US captain, Dave Stockton, opted not to replace Pate in the team but rested him for the first three sessions as his side took a 7.5 to 4.5 lead. While Pate played in the Saturday afternoon four-ball, he and Corey Pavin lost to Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomery as Europe levelled things up at 8-8.

However, Pate’s injury problems worsened and he was unable to play in the singles meaning his match with David Gilford was automatically halved. The US were accused of gamesmanship for their use of of the player.

This followed on from accusations of cheating by Paul Azinger and Chip Beck in the Friday foursomes but Europe still had a chance to retain the Ryder Cup on the last hole of the last match when Langer was left with a six-foot putt for par to win his match.

The German missed and the USA won.

2. Brookline, Massachusetts (1999)

The United States 14.5 beat Europe 13.5

Source: donald mcleod/YouTube

You have to wonder where the 1999 Ryder Cup would rank had US players and officials not trampled all over the line of Jose Maria Olazabal’s 25-footer in the wake of Justin Leonard’s miracle putt.

However, those shameful scenes on the 17th have served to conceal what was a poor captain’s performance from Mark James who, while overseeing Europe’s 10-6 lead after two days, failed to find a way to include the three Ryder Cup rookies – Andrew Coltart, Jean Van de Velde and Jarmo Sandelin – in any of the action.

All three duly lost their singles matches – alongside Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Jesper Parnevick – as Europe fell to 12-10 down after the first six matches. Despite Padraig Harrington beating Mark O’Meara, a loss for Miguel Angel Jimenez and Leonard’s half ensured victory for the USA.

1. Medinah, Illinois (2012)

Europe 14.5 beat the United States 13.5

Source: Ryder Cup/YouTube

The 2012 Ryder Cup will take some beating in terms of drama. Indeed, it’s likely that it will never be matched.

After some poor performances in the the Friday afternoon four-balls and Saturday morning foursomes, Europe found themselves trailing 8-4. With the afternoon four-balls also going the way of the hosts, it looked like the US would take an 11-5 lead into Sunday’s singles.

However, nobody told Ian Poulter and the English golfer birdied the last five holes of his Saturday round to turn an impossible six point deficit into a more manageable, but still quite challenging, four point one.

Europe used Poulter’s momentum – as well as drawing inspiration from the death of Seve Ballesteros – to produce a colossal performance on Sunday, winning the first five singles before picking up further points from Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia to go 13-12 up.

With three games still on the course, Europe knew a half in any would be enough to retain the Ryder Cup. However, nerves started to jangle when Peter Hansen lost the first of them on the final hole to put it in the hands of Martin Kaymer.

One up playing the last, Kaymer hit a bunker off the final tee but still found the green and had two putts to win once Steve Stricker missed his long birdie putt.

He sent the first putt six feet past the hole but, unlike compatriot Bernhard Langer at Kiawah Island, the German nailed the return to give Europe the one point win.

Disagree with our selections? Let us know why in the comment section below:

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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