1993 Ryder Cup team

The 15-13 victory at The Belfry (which also hosted in 2002), remains the last win by a U.S. Ryder Cup Team overseas.


Building a World Class Team: 1993

Team USA Ryder Cup Update, June 16, 2014:

With major championships comes volatility in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, since points count double for American players who make the cut in majors during a Ryder Cup year. So with each major, including last weekend's U.S. Open, Captain Tom Watson continues to get a better look at how his team is shaping up.

With the new updated standings, Rickie Fowler made a strong push for a possible second Ryder Cup appearance with his tie for second at Pinehurst. That helped Fowler jump 11 spots from No. 18 to No. 7.

BUILDING A WORLD CLASS TEAM: 1963 Team USA | 1935 Team USA | 1987 Europeans | Full series

As impressive as that was, it wasn't the biggest leap of the week. That honor belonged to two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, who tied for second with Fowler. Compton soared from No. 59 to No. 19 this week.

Among the top 10, other notable moves included Dustin Johnson who moved from No. 5 to No. 3 with a tie for fourth and Phil Mickelson, who slipped back to No. 10 after a tie for 28th, putting him one spot out of the automatic bids.

Watson has said a number of times that PGA of America President Ted Bishop has noted the magic number, typically, to be a lock for the team is 4,600 points. If that holds true, it looks as though the U.S. team already has four guaranteed team members in Bubba Watson (6,704.656 points), Jimmy Walker (5,379.505), Dustin Johnson (4,812.202) and Matt Kuchar (4,684.187).

Jordan Spieth (4,422.573) and Jim Furyk (4,302.834) are also closing in on 4,600 points.

Keegan Bradley tied for fourth at the U.S. Open thanks to a final-round, 3-under 67 and moved from No. 21 to No. 17 in the latest standings.

After his round, Bradley admitted that the Ryder Cup points were very much on his mind.

"I'm so pumped," he said. "I was nervous coming down to the end, because there's so many Ryder Cup points on the line here. I was thinking about it. And it's a battle for me because of how bad I want to be on that team. I know that one shot here or there is double points, so it's -- it was nerve wracking. I'm not too worried about the money or the place, [it's about] Ryder Cup points at this point for me."

That kind of desire and attitude may be exactly what the U.S. Captain is looking for. After all, it was a selfless "taking one for the team" moment that helped define Captain Watson's victorious 1993 squad at Belfry. 

1993 - The rare U.S. victory at Belfry

Bob Denney, PGA of America
 

To achieve any success, a team must have a solid focus and make sacrifices.

The United States Ryder Cup Team in 1993 had a balance of both as it faced Europe for the third time at The Belfry’s Brabazon Course in Sutton Coldfield, England.

Captain Tom Watson tempered the pre-match hype from a 1991 Ryder Cup at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., marketing sportsmanship first. He also chose two veteran match-play warriors in Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins as his Captain’s picks to offset four rookies – John Cook, Lee Janzen, Jim Gallagher Jr. and Davis Love III.

Sacrifices? When Europe’s Sam Torrance had a nail removed from a badly infected toe the night before the singles, and was unable to continue, Europe was leading 8½ to 7½ after two days of foursomes and four-balls. The teams had dueled to a 4-4 draw in the Day 2 afternoon four-balls.

Under Ryder Cup rules, if a player from one team is unable to compete during the course of the competition, the other team must submit a player who also would sit out the remainder of the matches.

It is a tough call for any Captain to make, but Watson didn’t have to sweat the details. Wadkins volunteered to have his name “in the envelope.” Wadkins said that he made his decision because the other members of the team had qualified on merit. “A lot of the guys came up to me and said I was crazy to do it,” said Wadkins at the time. “But those guys earned points to get on the team.”

As Watson greeted each member of his team on the first tee in the Sunday singles, he repeated the same comment to his players: “Play this one for Lanny. And if you get down, just think what a fighter Lanny is, and that will help you get through a tough spot.”

Building a World Class Team

As a result, Wadkins’ “taking one for the team,” was a major motivator.

The U.S. soared by winning five of its first six singles matches, sprinkling in a halved match by Fred Couples and Ian Woosnam. In the final dramatic hour, Love and Italy’s Costantino Rocca were all square after 17 holes.

Love split the 18th fairway with his drive, but could not make his 9-iron approach hold the top tier of the green. His ball rolled back down the slope to finish 40 feet from the hole and near Rocca’s ball, which was just off the putting surface. Rocca’s chip careened across the green, 14 feet from the hole and Love lagged his first putt to within four feet, before making the putt for the victory.

Love raised his arms aloft for what seemed like minutes. “I’ll always remember that putt going in and looking over at the guys and being frozen to the ground,” said Love. “I still don’t know where that ball is.”

The momentum was in America’s camp, in a resounding 7½ to 4½ Sunday performance. Payne Stewart, Gallagher, Floyd and Tom Kite added singles wins to Love’s magic moment, and Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo waged a halved match. Gallagher, who was originally scheduled to face the injured Torrance, took Wadkins’ spot against Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros, and built a 3-hole margin after nine holes and was mistake-free after that. Floyd was given the honor of sealing the Cup with a 2-up conquest of Spain’s José María Olazábal.

The 15-13 victory at The Belfry (which also hosted in 2002), remains the last win by a U.S. Ryder Cup Team overseas.