Greatest Comebacks to Win In Ryder Cup History

Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts of Europe celebrate after winning The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012
The Team Europe celebration gets under way as it celebrates its 2012 Ryder Cup comeback.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Come-from-behind victories by one team over another at the Ryder Cup aren't common. When a team goes into the final-day singles session of match play with a lead, that team almost always wins. Almost always.

That rarity of come-from-behind wins on the final day makes those few Ryder Cup comebacks that do exist all the more impressive. Here we rank the Top 4 comeback wins at the Ryder Cup, considering only those teams that won after trailing entering the singles play.

01
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2012 Ryder Cup: Europe 14.5, USA 13.5

Martin Kaymer 2012 Ryder Cup
Martin Kaymer exults after sinking the putt that clinched the Ryder Cup for Team Europe in 2012. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

Europe trailed 10-4 with two fourball matches still on the course on Day 2, and that's actually where Team Europe's comeback began. Europe won those two remaining fourballs on Day 2 to cut its deficit to 10-6.

Then, in the final day of singles matches, Europe reeled off five consecutive wins to start Day 3. Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia all came from behind in their individual matches to earn crucial victories.

Europe won that singles session by a score of 8.5 to 3.5 to match the Americans' comeback in 1999. Of the 12 singles matches, Europe won eight and earned a half-point in one more.

When Martin Kaymer sank a 5-foot putt on the 18th green to defeat Steve Stricker, it was the 14th point for Europe. That guaranteed the Europeans would hold the cup, since they were the defending champions.

This comeback gets the nod over the following one, which was by the same score, because Europe won on the road, playing on American soil.

02
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1999 Ryder Cup: USA 14.5, Europe 13.5

Justin Leonard 1999 Ryder Cup Putt
Justin Leonard exults as his long putt across the 17th green finds the cup in his singles match against Jose Maria Olazabal. It was the key putt in Team USA's victory. Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images

Like Europe in 2012, Team USA trailed here 10-6 entering the singles. And like Europe, USA won the singles session 8.5 to 3.5, and the overall match 14.5 to 13.5.

In at least one way, though, USA's win exceeds Europe's 2012 victory. In the singles, the Americans opened with six consecutive wins — including wins by Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods — and won seven of the first eight matches.

A half-point earned when Justin Leonard sank a very long putt against Jose Maria Olazabal in the ninth match of the final day gave the Americans, playing at home, the points needed to win.

03
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1957 Ryder Cup: Great Britain 7.5, USA 4.5

In these early days of the Ryder Cup, the teams played only 12 matches: four foursomes and eight singles. There was little margin for error. And the Americans absolutely dominated this era of Ryder Cup history, so when USA took a 3-1 lead into the singles, the outcome appeared a formality.

But not to Great Britain, which dominated singles to the tune of 6.5 to 1.5, flipping a 2-point deficit into a 3-point victory.

And while this USA team was lacking in major star power, it wasn't lacking for major champions: Seven of the eight Americans in singles had won, or would win, majors. None of the British singles players had won, or would win, a major.

Yet Eric Brown beat Tommy Bolt, and Peter Mills beat Jackie Burke, in the first two singles games to even the score. Then, after Fred Hawkins posted the lone American singles win, the Brits ran off four more match victories.

04
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1995 Ryder Cup: Europe 14.5, USA 13.5

Phillip Walton wins the 1995 Ryder Cup
Overcome with emotion, Phillip Walton is embraced by Team Europe captain Bernard Gallacher after sinking the putt that won the 1995 Ryder Cup. Simon Bruty / Getty Images

Europe trailed by two points (9-7) following the first two days of play in 1995. But in singles, Europe won 7.5 of the available 12 points to earn the 1-point victory.

Tom Lehman opened the singles session with a win over Seve Ballesteros, and Ryder Cup rookie Phil Mickelson closed it with a win, but in-between the USA stumbled badly. Ben Crenshaw and Curtis Strange were among the losers; Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie among the winners.

Perhaps the biggest boost for Europe, though, were the wins from journeymen David Gilford (over Brad Faxon) and Philip Walton (over Jay Haas). Walton's victory clinched it for Europe. This was another comeback win on the road for Europe, too.