1991 U.S. Ryder Cup team

USA Team, 1991 Ryder Cup Matches, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Building a World Class Team: 1991

Team USA Ryder Cup Update, June 30, 2014:

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed both earned about 120 points this weekend to push closer toward earning a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup Team.

The exact total needed to earn one of nine automatic spots won't be known until the points qualifying events close with the PGA Championship, but U.S. Team Captain Tom Watson has all along leaned on PGA of America President Ted Bishop's assumption that 4,637 is the magic number.

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And either way, both earned 120 points in a weekend where most of the top 10 failed to earn a point by either not playing or missing the cut at Congressional.

Spieth and Reed finished tied for 11th this weekend at the Quicken Loans National, and along with Brendon Todd, made the biggest moves among anyone in the top 15. Todd tied for fifth this weekend and moved two spots from No. 15 to No. 13. He was the only player in the top 20 to move up. Todd earned about 145 points.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed a valuable opportuntiy to gain points and push up the standings to earn an automatic berth. He still has a chance with strong showings in the Open Championship and PGA Championship, but it's beginning to look more likely his only chance to make the team will be on one of three Captain's Picks.

Spieth, Woods and Reed make for interesting stories as potential Ryder Cup teammates in 2014. They all clearly have confidence. 

Spieth, at 20, has been steady and showed poise not often seen in players so young. Reed and Woods have both showed confidence that borders on cockiness at times, something that has tweaked the golf world, but not necessarily a bad thing come September.

After all, confidence was something one winning Captain had in abundance in 1991.

1991- The United States finds redemption on Kiawah Island

Bob Denney, PGA of America

Confidence? That was never a problem for Dave Stockton, the two-time PGA Champion who never saw a putt he didn’t like.

During Stockton’s journey to Captain the 1991 United States Ryder Cup Team, his boldness was the headline after America failed to retain the trophy from 1985 through 1989. Stockton had made a second career from pro-ams and corporate outings and was asked at a spring 1991 media event in Iowa City, Iowa, what was his biggest concern as Captain.

“What I’m going to say in my victory speech.”

Neither the U.S. nor European Teams arrived at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C. with any course knowledge. Architect Pete Dye’s creation was completed just before the competition.

Stockton, who faced European Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher once in singles, a halved match in 1971, opened with a team of nine Ryder Cup veterans that included major champions Mark Calcavecchia, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Payne Stewart and Lanny Wadkins. Floyd was a Captain’s pick along with Chip Beck.

Building a World Class Team

Gallacher countered with four of the top five players in the Official World Rankings: Ian Woosnam, José María Olazábal, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros.

It was a quirk in European Ryder Cup point standings that Faldo and Olazábal did not have enough points in the standings leading up to the Matches. So, Gallacher used his Captain’s selections on Faldo, Olazábal and Mark James.

Stockton also had 1990 PGA Player of the Year Wayne Levi, PGA Tour leading money-winner Corey Pavin, and Steve Pate, who was rounding into great form coming into the Ryder Cup.

Those plans were severely altered three days before the Opening Ceremonies when Pate suffered injuries to his ribs and left hip. Pate was given a chance to show if he had recovered sufficiently before the singles, by teaming with Pavin in a Saturday afternoon four-ball match. The U.S. lost, 2 and 1, to Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer.

Pate, who was clearly not himself, was benched. Gallacher had to respond with sidelining a player whose name was “in the envelope” prior to the final session – David Gilford.

The teams dueled to an 8-8 draw after the first two days, capped by a hard-earned halved match between Stewart and Fred Couples against Ballesteros and Olazábal, one of the most formidable duos in Ryder Cup history.

Stewart closed by making a three-foot par putt to earn the halved match. Europe jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Sunday’s singles, before Paul Azinger, Pavin and Beck won three of the next four matches.

After a win by Paul Broadhurst over Mark O’Meara, Couples and Wadkins rallied to win, leaving center stage to Irwin and Langer. Both players missed the green, with Irwin leaving his 75-foot chip from a sandy hollow 20 feet short of the hole.

Given a lifeline, Langer ran his pitch from below the green six feet past the flagstick. Irwin’s par putt was two feet shy of the hole.

After 28 matches, four lead changes, it all came down to one 6-foot par putt. Langer’s putt, which came over two spike marks, slipped by the right side of the hole.

The halved match, a 14 ½ to 13 ½ victory, and the Cup was back on U.S. shores for the first time since 1983.

“No one in the world can make that putt,” said Ballesteros. “It is too much pressure for anyone. Not even Jack Nicklaus in his prime will make that putt. . . Not even me!”