Wild finishes are a staple of recent Ryder Cup matches, but some stand out more than others. Heroic or heartbreaking, here are the ten greatest events in Ryder Cup history.
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10. 1985; Europe 16 ½ U.S. 11 ½
Hardly the closest or most dramatic match, the ’85 event at The Belfry in England was significant because Europe’s smashing victory marked the emergence of the Ryder Cup as a genuine rivalry. Popular Sam Torrance birdied the final hole against Andy North to clinch the winning point. Going forward, the Ryder Cup became the most anticipated event in golf.
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9. 1997; Europe 14 ½ U.S. 13 ½
Tiger Woods’ first Ryder Cup was also the first time the matches were held in Continental Europe -- at Spain’s Valderrama -- and it turned out to be the Seve Ballesteros show. Europe’s spirited Captain rallied his troops to a huge five-point lead after two days. Europe barely held on to win, but Woods’ 1-3-1 record was a rocky precursor of Ryder Cups to come.
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8. 1995; Europe 14 ½ U.S. 13 ½
Just when it seemed the U.S. would romp at home at Rochester’s Oak Hill, they surrendered a two-point lead on the final day. The primary scapegoat was Curtis Strange, a captain’s pick by Lanny Wadkins, who went 0-3 and coughed up a 1-up lead with two to play to Nick Faldo by bogeying the final two holes.
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7. 1993; U.S. 15 Europe 13
With Europe holding a slim 8 ½ to 7 ½ lead on their home turf at The Belfry going into the final day, everything favored another European win. Not so fast, said U.S. Captain Tom Watson. The U.S. went 5-0-1 over the final six matches, paced by Davis Love III's clinching win against Costantino Rocca, and retained the Cup.
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6. 2010; Europe 14 ½ U.S. 13 ½
Following record rains at Celtic Manor’s 2010 course in Wales, the Match finished on Monday. The suspense that unfolded was worth the wait. With a massive crowd on hand, the U.S. engineered a final-day charge that extended to the final singles match between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan. When McDowell rammed home a 15-foot birdie putt at 16 and Mahan duffed a chip at 17, Europe regained the Cup.
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5. 1983; U.S. 14 ½ Europe 13 ½
In the closest match ever on American soil, the proceedings came down to the final two singles matches. Down 3 holes with 11 to play, Lanny Wadkins stuck a 60-yard wedge 18 inches from the hole at PGA National’s par-5 18th to earn a half-point against Jose Maria Canizares, and Tom Watson followed with a 2 and 1 victory over Bernard Gallacher, cementing the U.S. win.
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4. 1969; U.S. 16 Great Britain 16
Perhaps the ultimate display of sportsmanship took place at Royal Birkdale’s 18th green. With the match tied, the Cup would be decided via the final individual match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. With both men on the green, Jacklin putted first, leaving it two-and-a-half-feet from the hole. Nicklaus putted for the win, missed, but sank the comebacker. He then picked up Jacklin’s ball, conceding the half.
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3. 2012 Europe 14 ½ U.S. 13 ½
Whether you call the match “The Miracle at Medinah” or “The Meltdown at Medinah,” it was undeniably one of the most dramatic tournaments ever. With Europe down 10 to 4 at one point late on Saturday, they roared back to win by virtue of astonishing putting performances by Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, with Martin Kaymer sinking the clincher.
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2. 1991; U.S. 14 ½ Europe 13 ½
“The War by the Shore” was among the most contentious matches ever. On the heels of the Gulf War, the U.S. was in a fighting mood. Many of the early skirmishes revolved around Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger. In the end, the battle of attrition was won by the U.S., thanks to one of history’s most famous missed putts, Bernhard Langer’s six-footer on the final green in his epic struggle against Hale Irwin.
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1. 1999; U.S. 14 ½ Europe 13 ½
Following Captain Ben Crenshaw’s Saturday night premonition (“I’ve got a good feeling about this”), the U.S. completed the greatest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history. Justin Leonard capped the improbable win by draining a 45-foot putt on the 17th hole in his singles against Jose Maria Olazabal, prompting a raucous celebration, with players, wives and caddies storming the green.
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