The 1991 Ryder Cup was one of the most competitive in the event's storied history. The U.S. won, 14 1/2-13 1/2.
2 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
Kiawah’s Ocean Course, which opened earlier in 1991, showed its teeth all week. High winds and ubiquitous trouble tested the players' mettle and imagination. Lanny Wadkins, above, wasn't the only player to venture into the island's wilds.
3 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
Fred Couples slashed out of one of Kiawah's dunes during team play. Raymond Floyd said of the course: "It's so hard it's unbelievable. If you had to play this golf course with a scorecard, I don't see how you could finish."
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The Spaniards Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal won 3 1/2 points in four team matches. Ballesteros led Europe with a 4-0-1 record.
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Through two days of team play, the sides were tied at 8 points.
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Scotland's Colin Montgomerie (above) benefited from a historic collapse by Mark Calcavecchia, who was 5 up at the turn and 4 up with four to play. After losing the 15th hole with a triple bogey and the 16th with a bogey, Calcavecchia skulled a tee shot that hit the water halfway to the 17th green, and then blew a two-foot putt to give Montgomerie the hole with a five. Calcavecchia bogeyed the final hole as well, Montgomerie parred, and the Europeans got a half.
7 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
Lanny Wadkins beat Mark James, 3 and 2, to give the American’s 14 points -- half a point short of the total needed to win the Cup.
8 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
In the Cup’s deciding match, Hale Irwin was 1 up with two holes to play against Bernhard Langer. Irwin three-putted the 17th and then fluffed a chip on 18 for another bogey.
9 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
After Irwin’s misstep, Langer faced a six foot par putt to win the match – and the Cup – for Europe. "I couldn't breathe, I couldn't swallow," he said of the putt. "The sphincter factor was high."
10 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
Langer missed the putt, and the partisan crowd – along with the American players – erupted.
11 of 12Jaqueline Duvoisin / SI
Payne Stewart and the victorious American team took the celebration all the way to the Atlantic, splashing through the waves in full uniform.
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"So, yes, the U.S. has regained the Cup," wrote SI's John Garrity. "This time, though, even the winners seemed to need consoling. Sam Ryder's homely little trophy is turning into a blood prize."
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