A closer look at the 9 final-day comebacks in Ryder Cup history

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PGA of America Archive
Justin Leonard's putt on the 17th hole at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., at the 1999 Ryder Cup secured the largest final-day comeback in U.S. Ryder Cup history.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, September 11, 2017 | 1:06 p.m.

The Ryder Cup has been around since 1927.

Believe it or not, over that span of time -- 41 Ryder Cups total -- there have only been nine occasions in which one side has come from behind to win, or force a draw on the final day.

The biggest final-day comeback margin? That would be four points. In 1999, the U.S. famously overcame a four-point deficit at the Country Club to shock the Europeans and win 14.5-13.5.

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The Europeans, of course, returned the favor in 2012. Faced with a 10-6 deficit of its own going into Sunday's singles, the Europeans rallied to hand the Americans a crushing, 14.5-13.5 defeat.

A few notes and key dates in Ryder Cup history:

- After the 1937 Ryder Cup, the matches weren't contested again until 1947 due to World War II.

- From 1927 to 1959, the Ryder Cup consisted of just two sessions -- one foursomes and one singles.

- In 1961, the matches entailed two fourballs and two singles sessions.

- In 1963, the matches consisted of two foursomes, two fourballs and two singles sessions.

- Ireland joined Great Britain and Ireland for the first time in 1973.

- The 1977 matches had one foursomes, one fourballs and one singles session.

- In 1979 the Ryder Cup had two foursomes, two fourballs and two singles sessions and was also the first year that all of continental Europe was included.

- It wasn't until 1981 that the format we know today -- two foursomes, two fourballs and one singles session -- came to be.

- The 2002 Ryder Cup at the Belfry, won by Europe, was supposed to be played in 2001, but was postponed one year due to the events of 9/11.

Here's a look at each of the nine final-day comebacks, chronologically, in Ryder Cup history:

1929 Ryder Cup
- Great Britain trailed the U.S. 2.5-1.5 entering the singles matches. Great Britain would win 5.5 of the possible 8 points available to win the Ryder Cup 7-5.

1949 Ryder Cup

 

- Great Britain took a 3-1 advantage into singles, but the U.S. won six of the eight matches to capture the Ryder Cup by a score of 7-5.

1957 Ryder Cup

 

- After falling behind 3-1 to the U.S after the opening day's foursomes matches, Great Britain rallied hard in singles, winning 6.5 of a possible eight points to down the Americans, 7.5-4.5. Fred Hawkins was the lone American to win a singles match at this Ryder Cup, downing one Peter Alliss, 2 and 1.

1969 Ryder Cup

 

- Forever remembered as, "The Concession" -- arguably the greatest show of sportsmanship in Ryder Cup history when Jack Nicklaus, much to the dismay of U.S. Captain Sam Snead, conceded a short putt to Tony Jacklin on the final hole and later saying, "I didn't think you'd miss it, but I wasn't going to give you that chance" -- the U.S. entered the final session trailing Great Britain 13-11. The U.S. fought back in the afternoon's final singles session, winning those matches 5-3. The final score -- 16-16 -- was the first draw in Ryder Cup history, but the U.S. retained the Ryder Cup thanks to its victory in 1967.

1989 Ryder Cup

 

- Trailing by two points at 9-7 heading into Sunday's singles, the U.S. won seven of the 12 singles matches to knot things up at 14-14 for the second draw in Ryder Cup history. However, Europe retained thanks to its win in 1987.

1993 Ryder Cup

 

- The U.S. was down 8.5-7.5 heading into the final-day singles at the 1993 matches, but came up big in singles. The Americans won 7.5 out of a possible 12 singles points to win 15-13.

1995 Ryder Cup

 

- U.S. Captain Lanny Wadkins and his squad took what seemed to be a healthy 9-7 lead into the final day at Oak Hill. Plus, Europe had only won once before on U.S. soil -- 1987 -- but had never come from behind to win an away game. That all changed in Rochester. The Europeans were on a mission in 1995 and, after collecting 7.5 points in singles, downed the U.S., 14.5-13.5. This was the start of Europe's domination in upcoming Ryder Cups.

1999 Ryder Cup

 

- Facing what looked to be an insurmountable, four-point, 10-6 deficit with only the singles matches remaining at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., U.S. Captain Ben Crenshaw seemed to be the only person on the grounds who believed his team could turn the tide on the final day. What unfolded that Sunday, was a miracle. The U.S. dominated in singles, winning 8.5 of the 12 points available and somehow completed the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history, 14.5-13.5 to shock Europe. Justin Leonard's long putt on the 17th green, which guaranteed the decisive half-point the Americans would need to clinch, remains the biggest clutch shot in the history of the matches.

2012 Ryder Cup

 

- The "Miracle at Medinah." In the northwest suburb of Chicago is where the Europeans turned the tables on the Americans like never before. Sporting a 10-6 lead going into Sunday's singles, it looked as if Sunday's singles matches would be a victory march for Captain Davis Love III's team. Heck, it seemed like such a forgone conclusion that Europe's Rory McIlroy mixed up the time zone he was in and very nearly missed his singles tee time. But, once that got sorted out, Europe was all business. Everything that could go wrong for the U.S. did. Europe couldn't miss a putt. In the end, Europe completed a historic comeback, matching the rally the U.S. had in 1999, but also doing so on U.S. soil. 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.