Golf: RYDER CUP: Four classics that aroused America

The drama of recent contests finally forced the US public to appreciate fully golf's collision of continents. By Andy Farrell in Brookline

WHILE Ryder Cup matches held in Britain have always attracted enthusiastic galleries and much press interest, it was not always the same here in America. The home team were expected to win and they always did.

The late Peter Dobereiner wrote in Golf World in the 1980s: "For 60 years the American sporting public regarded the Ryder Cup, in so far as it was aware of its existence, as a quaint ritual of no competitive relevance. The one-sided results distressingly confirmed this judgement that the matches were on a rough par with the Tennessee Frog Jumping Festival."

All that changed after the Europeans came on board and though their first visit to the United States in 1979 ended in the usual outcome, the last four matches in America have been thrilling contests:

1983: USA 141/2, Europe 131/2

(Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)

TONY JACKLIN'S first match as captain and he demanded first-class treatment for his players. The team flew out on Concorde and took a narrow lead on the first day. In the singles, Seve Ballesteros played one of his most famous shots with a three-wood from a fairway bunker at the last to halve with Fuzzy Zoeller. An upset looked on the cards with Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Paul Way and Ken Brown all winning. But Lanny Wadkins, having gone one down playing the last, hit a 60-yard pitch to within a foot to square his match with Jose Maria Canizares and secure the win. Jack Nicklaus, the American captain, kissed the divot of Wadkins' shot in recognition of his team's narrow escape.

1987: Europe 15, USA 13

(Muirfield Village, Ohio)

JACK NICKLAUS returned as captain on the course he built but the Europeans arrived holding the Cup after their win at The Belfry in 1985. Nicklaus was desperate to inject some excitement into the atmosphere but it was the relatively large proportion of visiting fans who made the most noise, especially on the first afternoon when Europe swept the fourballs. They did not lose any of the first four sessions in building a five-point lead going into the singles. The Americans won five and halved one of the first seven singles but Eamonn Darcy beat Ben Crenshaw at the last, after the 1999 US skipper broke his putter. Much to his chagrin, Nicklaus oversaw for America's first loss on home soil.

1991: USA 141/2, Europe 131/2

(Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina)

INTEREST WAS finally piqued and the US media whipped up a frenzy to get the trophy back Stateside. The match was billed as the "War on the Shore" and some of the home players appeared in Desert Storm caps. Europe trailed early on but won the second-day fourballs to square the match. Steve Pate dropped out of the singles with an injury, Colin Montgomerie won the last four holes to halve with Mark Calcavecchia and it all came down to the last putt on the last green of the last match. Bernhard Langer's effort from six feet just missed, allowing Hale Irwin to halve their match, and America had a dramatic one-point win.

1995: Europe 141/2, USA 131/2

(Oak Hill, New York)

AFTER Corey Pavin chipped in at the last on Saturday evening, the Americans held a two-point lead. History suggested Europe were up against it. "History is for amateurs, professionals only think of the future," said captain Bernard Gallacher prior to one of the most surprising final-day comebacks. Seve Ballesteros, in the top match, could not hit a fairway but did not come quietly against Tom Lehman. Howard Clark and Mark James had crucial wins, followed by David Gilford, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance, but it was Nick Faldo winning the last three holes against Curtis Strange that gave Philip Walton the chance to join the legion of Irish heroes. Knees wobbling, Walton successfully lagged his putt to beat Jay Haas.

HOW THE RYDER CUP HAS BEEN WON AND LOST

1927 Worcester, Mass: USA 91/2, GB&I 21/2

1929 Moortown, Leeds: GB&I 7, USA 5

1931 Scioto, Ohio: USA 9, GB&I 3

1933 Southport, Lancs: GB&I 61/2, USA 51/2

1935 Ridgewood, New Jersey: USA 9, GB&I 3

1937 Southport, Lancs: USA 8, GB&I 4

1947 Portland, Oregon: USA 11, GB&I 1

1949 Ganton, Scarborough: USA 7, GB&I 5

1951 Pinehurst, N Carolina: USA 91/2, GB&I 21/2

1953 Wentworth, Surrey: USA 61/2, GB&I 51/2

1955 Thunderbird Ranch, Cal: USA 8, GB&I 4

1957 Lindrick, Sheffield: GB&I 71/2, USA 41/2

1959 Eldorado, California: USA 81/2, GB&I 31/2

1961 Royal Lytham, Lancs: USA 141/2, GB&I 91/2

1963 East Lake, Atlanta: USA 23, GB&I 9

1965 Royal Birkdale, S'port: USA 191/2, GB&I 121/2

1967 Champions, Houston: USA 231/2, GB&I 81/2

1969 Royal Birkdale, S'port: GB&I 16, USA 16

1971 Old Warson, St Louis: USA 181/2, GB&I 131/2

1973 Muirfield, East Lothian: USA 19, GB&I 13

1975 Laurel Valley, Penn: USA 21, GB&I 11

1977 Royal Lytham, Lancs: USA 121/2, GB&I 71/2

1979 The Greenbrier, W Virg: USA 17, Europe 11

1981 Walton Heath, Surrey: USA 181/2, Europe 91/2

1983 PGA National, Florida: USA 141/2, Europe 131/2

1985 The Belfry, Sut Coldfield: Europe 161/2, USA 111/2

1987 Muirfield Village, Ohio: Europe 15, USA 13

1989 The Belfry: Europe 14, USA 14

1991 Kiawah Island, S Carol: USA 141/2, Europe 131/2

1993 The Belfry: USA 15, Europe 13

1995 Oak Hill, Rochester: Europe 141/2, USA 131/2

1997 Valderrama, Spain: Europe 141/2, USA 131/2

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