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Ryder Cup: Golf records, odd accomplishments and facts

Golf fans seem to remember everything about the Ryder Cup. We remember Langer's putt in 1991, the shirts in 1999 and the miraculous comeback in 2012. But here's 17 Ryder Cup facts you (probably) don't know.

1. Largest margin of victory in an 18-hole match: 

In an 18-hole match play contest, the largest possible margin of victory would be 10 & 8 (meaning up 10 after eight holes). While that has never happened in the Ryder Cup, there have been two occassions of 8 & 7 victories. Both were claimed by Americans in singles competition, with the first coming in 1987 when Tom Kite beat Howard Clark and the second when Fred Couples defeated Ian Woosnam in 1997.

Landslides are more seldom in team competition, but that hasn't stopped three different teams from recording 7 & 6 wins throughout Ryder Cup history. Once again all were in favor of the Americans, the most recent of which came from Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in 2012 over Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

2. Largest total margin of victory at a Ryder Cup:

In 1967, a stacked United States roster included captain Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper. At Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, the Americans defeated Great Britain with a final tally of 23.5 to 8.5. It was the fifth consecutive Ryder Cup victory during the era of American dominance.

3. Most successful partnership in Ryder Cup history:

No duo ever embodied the spirit of the Ryder Cup more than Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábel. No team recorded more victories or total points either, as the Spainards had a record of 11 victories to just two losses and two halves.

The 12 total points is twice as many as the nearest partnernships of Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke as well as Sir Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam who each have recorded six total points.

4. The three undefeated partnerships:

There have been only three partnerships in Ryder Cup history who have never lost or tied a match together. The best of these was Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson, who went 5-0-0 together between the 1967 and 1971 Ryder Cups (neither were on the 1969 roster). Dickinson also holds the individual record for most consective matches won with nine.

The King makes the list a second time in his partnership with Billy Casper, going a perfect 3-0-0. The final undefeated pair was Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, who went 4-0-0 with three of those coming in a clean sweep at the 1981 Ryder Cup.

5. Holes-in-one at the Ryder Cup:

There are a total of six holes-in-one in the Ryder Cup history books, starting with Peter Bulter's ace in 1973 at Muirfield. Interestingly, Bulter is the only one of the group to record a hole-in-one and still lose the match.

The most recent holes-in-one, and also the longest, came at the 213-yard 14th hole at The K Club in 2006. The first came from Paul Casey during Saturday Foursomes, and Scott Verplank had the second during Sunday's singles matches.

6. Family members competing in the Ryder Cup:

There have been five sets of brothers who have competed at the Ryder Cup throughout its history, highlighted by Whitcombe brothers in 1935. The Great Britain & Ireland team featured Charles, Ernest and Reg Whitcombe. Needless to say it was the only time three brothers all competed on the same team. In recent years the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Eduoardo, both competed on the European team in 2010.

There have been instances of cousins, uncles and nephews, and brothers-in-law who have all competed at the Ryder Cup. There have even been two cases of fathers and sons who have both represented the European side: Percy and Peter Aliss and Antonio and Ignacio Garrido.

7. There have only ever been 3 left-handed Ryder Cup competitors:

Can you name them?

The first lefty golfer to compete in the Ryder Cup came in 1977, when Englishman Peter Dawson played on the final Great Britain & Ireland team. The other two have come in recent years, with Phil Mickelson making 10 Ryder Cup appearances and Bubba Watson competing in the last three contests.

8. Oldest player in Ryder Cup history:

At 51 years, 20 days old, Raymond Floyd became the oldest Ryder Cup competitor ever. Floyd was a captain's selection in 1993, 24 years after his first appearance in 1969, which is also a Ryder Cup record.

Floyd's 3-1-0 record in 1993 gave the United States three points, which was tied for best on the team.

9. Youngest player in Ryder Cup history:

Speaking of age, the youngest competitor at the Ryder Cup was Sergio Garcia. At the tender age of 19 years and 258 days, Garcia qualified for the 1999 European team.

He was one of seven rookies on the 1999 team in Brookline, Massachusetts, that held a 10 to six lead going into the Sunday singles matches before falling 14.5 to 13.5.

10. Comparative averages ages show European youth:

For the 2014 Ryder Cup, the European roster averaged 34.83 years, which was the oldest team since players from continental Europe were allowed to compete.

The 2014 contest also marked just the second time during that span in which the average age of the American team was younger than that of the Europeans, with the other being in 1995.

11. Youngest Ryder Cup Captain in history:

For one final age-related fact Arnold Palmer returns to the list, this time as the youngest Ryder Cup captain ever. He was chosen to lead the team in 1963 at just 34 years, 1 month, and 1 day. As a disclaimer, Palmer was also a player on the team. 

But Palmer served as the final player-captain in the contest's history, so this record seems pretty safe. He returned as a non-playing captain twelve years later in 1975.

12. Total Ryder Cup match points comparison:

The Ryder Cup began in 1927, with a total of 928 matches being played. In the overall matchup, the United States holds a slight advantage of 514.5 to 413.5.

Since the continental Europeans joined the competition in 1979, Europeans have won nine Ryder Cups to the Americans' seven, with one tie. In terms of total match points, the Europeans lead 258-246 which is a sizable advantage including large leads in foursomes and fourball. However, the Americans hold a 113-102.5 lead in singles competition. 

13. Best performance by a captain's pick:

Since 1979, there have been three instances of captain's pick earning four out of a possible five points. The first was Lee Westwood in 2006, who had three victories and two halves.

The other two are from Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter, who earned four points in both 2008 and 2012. His 8-2-2 total record as a captain's pick is the best during the modern era.

14. The "envelope rule:"

What do you do if one of the golfers is injured during the Ryder Cup and cannot compete in the singles?

Well in one of the more wild Ryder Cup traditions, the opposing Ryder Cup captain can select one player from his team that he would like to not compete. The nominated player is then matched up against the injured player and the match recorded as a half.

The catch however is that the captains must place the name of their nominated player in an envelope prior to the start of the matches. This situation has occured three times since 1979, including most recently in 1993 at The Belfry.

15. The only Ryder Cup competitors without a victory: 

In 2008, Oliver Wilson became the first European golfer to ever make the Ryder Cup squad without a victory on the European Tour. Two years later, Jeff Overton and Rickie Fowler became the first Americans on the team without wins on the PGA Tour.

This year's teams do not have any competitors on either side without professional victories.