1991 Ryder Cup

Bernhard Langer Misses Putt at 1991 Ryder Cup
Bernhard Langer missed this putt on the final green at the 1991 Ryder Cup, leading to a halve of his match against Hale Irwin and helping Team USA win the Cup. David Cannon / Getty Images

Score: USA 14.5, Europe 13.5
Site: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Captains: Europe - Bernard Gallacher; USA - Dave Stockton

The 1991 Ryder Cup lives in history with the nickname "War By the Shore." Which tells you all you need to know about how contentious an affair this one was. The 1991 matches really set the more competitive, more contentious, more nervewracking tone that the modern Ryder Cup carries.

The Americans, led by fired-up captain Dave Stockton, set the mood by posing for a military-inspired photo/poster, and some Team USA players showed up wearing battle-fatigues-inspired golf caps for Day 1 of the matches. The "war" rhetoric fanned the flames for some unfortunate fan behavior, Team Europe players claimed. The Americans said they were simply honoring troops taking part in Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf region; the Europeans said some of the Americans' actions crossed the line from patriotism to jingoism.

Regardless, the tone was set. It continued with accusations of rules violations back-and-forth between Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros; accusations of gamesmanship; and again when Team USA withdrew an injured Steve Pate from singles (resulting in an automatic half-point to both sides) with an injury whose legitimacy was questioned by Team Europe.

But what happened during the actual matches? USA jumped to a 3-1 lead after the opening foursomes and led 4.5 to 3.5 after Day 1. The "Spanish Armada" - Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal - prevented an early American runaway by winning both its Day 1 matches. (That pairing was 3-0-1 for the week, and Ballesteros led both teams with a 4-0-1 individual mark.)

In the Day 2 foursomes, the USA again won the session 3-1, building an overall 7.5 to 4.5 lead. Things appeared bleak for Europe, until the Europeans almost ran the table in the afternoon fourballs, taking the session 3.5 to 0.5.

Which sent the 1991 Ryder Cup into the Sunday singles session tied 8-8. As the holder of the Cup, Europe needed six out of 12 available singles points to retain it; USA needed 6.5 of a possible 12 singles points to win the Cup back.

David Feherty and Nick Faldo got Europe off to a good start by winning their early matches. But the lead changed multiple times throughout the final day, a day whose tension is best described by the Mark Calcavecchia-Colin Montgomerie match.

Calcavecchia took the match dormie after the 14th hole, 4-up with four to play. But Monty, playing in his first Ryder Cup, fought back. In truth, both played poorly over those last four holes, but Calc appeared a mess (some observers actually worried he might be having a nervous breakdown). Monty won the 15th and 16th hole, then gave Calcavecchia a chance to win it by hitting a ball into the water on the par-3 17th. Except that Calc then hit an even worse tee ball, very nearly a shank, that also went into the water only halfway to the green. Amazingly, Calcavecchia still had a chance to win the hole, but missed a 2-foot putt. Calc then bogied the 18th to lose another hole, giving Montgomerie the halve.

Afterward, Calcavecchia walked down to the beach next to The Ocean Course, sank into the sand and cried.

It all came down to the final match on the course, Hale Irwin vs. Bernhard Langer, and the match reached the final green all square. Langer needed to win the hole to win the match and retain the Ryder Cup for Europe. Irwin needed to halve the match to win back the Cup for USA.

Irwin struggled to get in the hole, Langer conceding him a short bogey putt. Which left Langer 45 feet from the cup with two putts to win. But Langer ran his first putt six feet past the hole, and then slid his par putt past the cup.

A half-point for Team USA, a half-point for Team Europe - and a 14.5-13.5 victory for the Americans.

Team Rosters
• Europe: Seve Ballesteros, Paul Broadhurst, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, David Gilford, Mark James, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Steven Richardson, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam
• USA: Paul Azinger, Chip Beck, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Wayne Levi, Mark O'Meara, Steve Pate, Corey Pavin, Payne Stewart, Lanny Wadkins

Day 1 Results:

• Seve Ballesteros/Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe, def. Paul Azinger/Chip Beck, U.S., 2 and 1
• Raymond Floyd/Fred Couples, U.S., def. Bernard Langer/Mark James, Europe, 2 and 1
• Lanny Wadkins/Hale Irwin, U.S., def. David Gilford/Colin Montgomerie, Europe, 4 and 2
• Payne Stewart/Mark Calcavecchia, U.S., def. Nick Faldo/Ian Woosnam, Europe, 1-up

• Sam Torrance/David Feherty, Europe, halved with Lanny Wadkins/Mark O'Meara, U.S.
• Seve Ballesteros/Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe, def. Paul Azinger/Chip Beck, U.S., 2 and 1
• Steven Richardson/Mark James, Europe, def. Corey Pavin/Mark Calcavecchia, U.S., 5 and 4
• Raymond Floyd/Fred Couples, U.S., def. Nick Faldo/Ian Woosnam, Europe, 5 and 3

Day 2 Results:

• Hale Irwin/Lanny Wadkins, U.S., def. David Feherty/Sam Torrance, Europe, 4 and 2
• Mark Calcavecchia/Payne Stewart, U.S., def. Mark James/Steven Richardson, Europe, 1-up
• Paul Azinger/Mark O'Meara, U.S., def. Nick Faldo/David Gilford, Europe, 7 and 6
• Seve Ballesteros/Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe, def. Fred Couples/Raymond Floyd, U.S., 3 and 2

• Ian Woosnam/Paul Broadhurst, Europe, def. Paul Azinger/Hale Irwin, U.S., 2 and 1
• Bernhard Langer/Colin Montgomerie, Europe, def. Corey Pavin/Steve Pate, U.S., 2 and 1
• Mark James/Steven Richardson, Europe, def. Lanny Wadkins/Wayne Levi, U.S., 3 and 1
• Seve Ballesteros/Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe, halved with Payne Stewart/Fred Couples, U.S.

Day 3 Results:

• David Gilford, Europe, halved with Steve Pate, U.S.
• David Feherty, Europe, def. Payne Stewart, U.S., 2 and 1
• Nick Faldo, Europe, def. Raymond Floyd, U.S., 2-up
• Colin Montgomerie, Europe, halved with Mark Calcavecchia, U.S.
• Corey Pavin, U.S., def. Steven Richardson, Europe, 2 and 1
• Seve Ballesteros, Europe, def. Wayne Levi, U.S., 3 and 2
• Paul Azinger, U.S., def. Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe, 2-up
• Chip Beck, U.S., def. Ian Woosnam, Europe, 3 and 1
• Paul Broadhurst, Europe, def. Mark O'Meara, U.S., 3 and 1
• Fred Couples, U.S., def. Sam Torrance, Europe, 3 and 2
• Lanny Wadkins, U.S., def. Mark James, Europe, 3 and 2
• Hale Irwin, U.S., halved with Bernhard Langer, Europe

Player Records (wins-losses-halves)

Seve Ballesteros, 4-0-1
Paul Broadhurst, 2-0-0
Nick Faldo, 1-3-0
David Feherty, 1-1-1
David Gilford, 0-2-1
Mark James, 2-3-0
Bernhard Langer, 1-1-1
Colin Montgomerie, 1-1-1
Jose Maria Olazabal, 3-1-1
Steven Richardson, 2-2-0
Sam Torrance, 0-2-1
Ian Woosnam, 1-3-0

Paul Azinger, 2-3-0
Chip Beck, 1-2-0
Mark Calcavecchia, 2-1-1
Fred Couples, 3-1-1
Raymond Floyd, 2-2-0
Hale Irwin, 2-1-1
Wayne Levi, 0-2-0
Mark O'Meara, 0-2-1
Steve Pate, 0-1-1
Corey Pavin, 1-2-0
Payne Stewart, 2-1-1
Lanny Wadkins, 3-1-1

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