Ranked: The 5 most dramatic Ryder Cups
If there's one thing the Ryder Cup never lacks it's drama.
Sure, some of the matches aren't as dramatic as others -- lopsided losses, etc. -- but between the build up, the first tee on the first day and how things unfold in the matches, there's always captivating theater to behold.
With that in mind and with the 2018 Ryder Cup at Paris' Le Golf National set to tee off later in September, we wondered: Which five Ryder Cups were the most dramatic in the event's history?
We think we've identified them...
Breakdown: If you want to single out one Ryder Cup that truly started European domination, this is it. Including this 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory over the Americans in Rochester, N.Y., the European team has gone 7-2 in the nine Ryder Cups played. Europe trailed 9-7 going into the final day, but rallied in singles where rookie Philip Walton secured just the second victory in history for the Europeans on U.S. soil with his 1 up win over Jay Haas. The U.S. saw victories in just four of the 12 singles matches. They came from Phil Mickelson (the first of his U.S. record 11 Ryder Cup starts) and future captains Tom Lehman, Davis Love III and Corey Pavin.
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Breakdown: A contentious battle throughout with some gamesmanship sprinkled in along the way (see: Paul Azinger/Seve Ballesteros feud). Tied 8-8 going into the final day, the Americans crept away with a 14 1/2-13 1/2 win after Germany's Bernhard Langer missed a 6-foot par putt on the final hole of his singles match with Hale Irwin, which would have ended the matches in a tie and allowed Europe to retain. Despite the defeat, Ballesteros was the No. 1 point-getter in this Ryder Cup with his amazing 4-0-1 record. There was also a stir around Steve Pate, who qualified for the U.S. team. Pate was and other teammates were involved in a minor car accident on the eve of the Ryder Cup. Pate bruised his ribs and received treatment at the hospital. After sitting out the first three matches, American Captain Dave Stockton placed Pate in the Saturday afternoon four-balls session with Corey Pavin against Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie. The Europeans won the match 2 and 1. The next day, Stockton elected to bench Pate out for his singles match against David Gilford, which resulted in each player receiving a half-point. This move didn't sit well with the Europeans, who essentially wondered: If Pate was so hurt, why did he play in the four-ball matches on Saturday? You'd be hard-pressed to find a more tension-filled Ryder Cup than this one... though we may have one further down on the list.
Breakdown: This was the first draw in Ryder Cup history and the Americans retained by virtue of their 1967 victory at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. So, what exactly, is so dramatic about a draw? It was the first-class display of sportsmanship by then Ryder Cup rookie Jack Nicklaus. In his singles match with England's icon, Tony Jacklin, the two reached the 18th green tied. Nicklaus made a tricky 5-foot par putt on the 18th green. With the outcome hanging in the balance, Jacklin prepared to stroke his missable 2-foot par putt to halve Nicklaus. Before Jacklin could even set his ball down on the green, Nicklaus -- to the dismay of his captain, Sam Snead, and many teammates -- reached down, picked up Jacklin's ball marker and conceded the putt to end the matches in a draw.
"He was a national hero," Nicklaus said later of Jacklin. "I felt like the United States was going to retain the Cup either way. I didn't think it was in the spirit of the game to make him putt and have a chance to miss a 2-foot putt in front of his fans."
Breakdown: After two complete days of play at these matches in the suburbs of Boston, the Europeans held a commanding 10-6 lead going into the final day. All along, these matches were mired by the actions of rowdy fans who were embarrassingly unsportsmanlike to many of the European players, most notably Colin Montgomerie. Even still, the Europeans had what most believed to be an insurmountable lead. Lucky for fans of the American team it's then-captain, Ben Crenshaw, isn't "most." The Americans were shellacked on Day 1, 6-2, but played to a draw in both of Saturday's sessions. That led Crenshaw, down 4 points, to wag his finger at the assembled media on Saturday evening to utter these now-famous words: "I'm going to leave y'all with one thought. I'm a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this."
A downtrodden U.S. team needed someone to believe in them going into Sunday's singles. Who better than their captain?
What unfolded that final day had never before been seen in Ryder Cup history. Front-loading his singles line-up, Crenshaw looked on as his team did the unthinkable, rallying from four points down -- complete with a 45-foot birdie bomb at the 17th hole by Justin Leonard that secured the victory -- to pull off the unlikeliest of wins, 14 1/2-13 1/2.
Breakdown: It's hard to believe that there's a Ryder Cup that could possibly top what happened at Brookline. But, this one in the suburbs of Chicago did just that (even if most American fans don't feel that way). Unlike 1999, the shoe was on the other foot at Medinah, as American Captain Davis Love III's squad took a commanding 10-6, 4-point advantage into Sunday's singles.
Based on history, the lead itself wasn't impossible to overcome -- something European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal stressed -- but it was a tall order, no doubt.
Some on the American team may have looked at the final day as just a formality before they collected the Ryder Cup for the second time in three tries. It turned out to be anything but that.
The Europeans could not miss a shot that day. They fired on all cylinders and all the Americans could do was look on in disbelief. Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer -- who holed the clinching putt -- were absolute stars for the Europeans, who flipped the script on a stunned U.S. team.
So how was the 2012 result more dramatic than 1999? Easy. As impressive as 1999 was, the U.S. earned the victory on home soil in front of a supportive home crowd. In 2012, Europe completed its improbable come-from-behind win as the visitors. The Europeans had fans that traveled to be sure, but they were far outnumbered by the American fans.
Not only did Europe win a Ryder Cup it shouldn't have based on the score going into the final day, but it also won one it shouldn't have given where it was played.
It doesn't get anymore impressive than that.