Golf365 looks back at Europe’s previous triumphs during a spell in which they have dominated the Ryder Cup
1985, The Belfry, Europe 16½ -11½:
Europe’s first win since 1957 looked a distant prospect when the American team won three of the opening morning’s foursomes, only the all-Spanish pairing of Seve Ballesteros and Manuel Pinero enjoying success for the home side.
However, the tide turned decisively from then on with the home side taking eight of the next 12 points available, Craig Stadler infamously missing a tap-in on the 18th green to only halve a match with Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle.
The stage was set for a hero and Sam Torrance pipped Howard Clark to the glory of holing the final putt, rallying from three down to Andy North to birdie the 18th for victory, marking the moment of triumph by raising his arms aloft before being engulfed by his team-mates.
1987, Muirfield Village, Europe 15-13:
Winning on home soil was one thing, but what chance a first-ever success on American soil?
The 1987 contest arguably found Europe’s golden generation of Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sandy Lyle in the form of their careers and marked the start of the most successful partnership in Ryder Cup history.
Ballesteros and Olazabal won three matches – like Woosnam and Faldo – as Europe built a five-point lead going into the singles.
Eamonn Darcy beat Ben Crenshaw in a roller-coaster contest which saw the future cup captain break his putter in disgust at going behind early on. Darcy held his nerve to spark delirious celebrations on the 18th green once Ballesteros had beaten Curtis Strange.
1989, The Belfry, Europe 14-14 (cup retained as holders):
Fired up by captain Ray Floyd’s introduction of his team as “the 12 greatest players in the world”, Europe recovered from winning just one point on the opening morning to take all four of the afternoon fourballs, Ballesteros and Olazabal thrashing Tom Watson and Mark O’Meara 6/5.
It fell to Christy O’Connor Jnr and Jose Maria Canizares to be the hero. Comprehensively outdriven by Fred Couples on the 18th, the Irishman fired a sensational two-iron across the water to within a few feet of the hole.
It completely unnerved Couples, who dumped his nine-iron approach into a greenside bunker and lost. Then Canizares sank the putt against Ken Green which ensured the cup was retained, although the end result was a tie.
1995, Oak Hill, Europe 14½ -13½:
Spurred on by losing at The Belfry two years earlier, Europe recorded their second win on American soil courtesy of a brilliant final-day performance.
Trailing 9-7 going into the singles, Europe’s lesser lights again came to the fore. Ballesteros was literally all over the golf course in the opening match against Tom Lehman, but wins for Howard Clark – with a hole-in-one on the 11th – Mark James, David Gilford, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance set the stage for a thrilling climax.
Nick Faldo gained another crucial point with a late fightback against Curtis Strange, his 95-yard wedge shot to the 18th to save par later voted shot of the year. Then Ireland’s Philip Walton, who was three up with three to play against Jay Haas until the American holed his bunker shot on the 16th and Walton missed for par on the next.
Haas could only bogey the 18th, however, and Walton sparked mass celebrations, Faldo and Ballesteros crying in each other’s arms.
1997, Valderrama, Europe: 14½ -13½:
Ballesteros took over the captaincy from Bernard Gallacher and after a row in the build-up involving Miguel Angel Martin, who qualified but reluctantly stood down because of injury, his team took a five-point lead into the singles.
Woosnam was hammered by a record 8/7 by Couples and so ended his career without a singles win, but Costantino Rocca beat Tiger Woods, Per-Ulrik Johansson overcame Davis Love and Thomas Bjorn came from four down to halve with Open champion Justin Leonard.
Langer ensured the cup was retained, then Montgomerie gave Europe the victory Ballesteros so badly wanted in the first-ever match on Spanish and continental soil.
2002, The Belfry, Europe 15½ -12½:
The match had to be postponed for a year because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America. The same 24 players were called upon and they were level after two days’ play.
Sam Torrance put all his strength at the top of the order, whereas Strange lived up to his name by putting Phil Mickelson and Woods 11th and 12th.
With Welshman Phillip Price rising to the occasion brilliantly and beating Mickelson, Woods was in no position to influence the result. He was still out on the course when Montgomerie, Langer, Padraig Harrington and Bjorn all recorded wins as well and after Niclas Fasth had been denied the chance to take Europe over the line by Paul Azinger sinking his bunker shot at the last, Paul McGinley stepped up and made the 10-footer for the half his side needed.
Cue more wild celebrations.
2004, Oakland Hills, Europe 18½ – 9½:
Langer was in charge now and things went well from the first morning when his side dropped only half a point.
Among those beaten were Woods and Mickelson, whom Hal Sutton brought together for the first time. Montgomerie and Harrington defeated them, then Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood did it again in the afternoon.
The shocked home side could never recover. They were 11-5 down heading into the singles and although they made a good start to the final day it was too tall an order and Europe sent them to their heaviest-ever defeat.
Sergio Garcia and Westwood matched the European record of 4½ points out of five and Montgomerie fittingly guaranteed the second successive victory and fourth in five contests.Í
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