30 years of foreign soil ineffectiveness

It’s been 30 years since the U.S. last won the Ryder Cup on foreign soil — 32 since the team successfully defended the victory — a drought Americans hope will end this year.

After a dramatic 14 1⁄2-13 1⁄2 USA victory in the 1991 Ryder Cup on Kiawah Island, Tom Watson’s Americans defeated Bernard Gallacher’s European team 15-13 at the Belfry in 1993.

Since then, America has been trying to win the monkey across the pond. Let’s take a look at the last three decades of European-hosted Ryder Cups.

Year: 1997
Captains: Tom Kite (USA), Chev Ballesteros (Europe)
Venue: Valderrama Golf Club
Winner: Europe, 14½-13½

Changing the history of the Ryder Cup playing career, Ballesteros held off the American charge and led the Europeans to a stunning victory in his native Spain, the first time the European Ryder Cup had been played outside of Great Britain or Ireland.

Europe took a 9-4 lead on Saturday. However, a speech by former President George W. Bush inspired the American team, who won eight of 12 singles matches and were very close to the lead, before Colin Montgomery put the nail in the coffin. He was tied with Scott Hoch going into the final hole of their match, but Monty hit his approach to 15 feet before missing his birdie putt. Hoch took three shots to reach the green and faced an 8-foot par, but Montgomery conceded Hoch’s putt to halve the match and give Europe the win.

„It’s very special, playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time in Spain and being the captain,” Ballesteros said. „I’ve won many tournaments around the world, but nothing like the Ryder Cup.”

Meanwhile, Edorda and Angela Rahm were part of the crowd at Valderrama and started the game shortly after. Then they taught it to their son John, who of course grew to become world No. 1, a two-time major champion and will be playing in his third Ryder Cup this year. After winning the Masters last April, John considered the 1997 Ryder Cup and his idol Ballesteros integral to his career.

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„If it wasn’t for the Chev and that Ryder Cup in ’97 — my father and I talk about it all the time — we don’t know where I’d be,” the Spaniard said.

2002

Year: 2002
Captains: Curtis Strange (USA), Sam Torrance (Europe)
Venue: Belfry
Winner: Europe, 15½-12 ½

After the Americans’ historic Sunday comeback at The Country Club in 1999, Europe got revenge three years later (after the September 11 attacks postponed the Ryder Cup for a year).

The teams were tied heading into Sunday, but Torrance dispatched his first eight players in singles matches on Sunday, immediately setting the tone and collecting 7 1⁄2 points to win back the trophy.

„We had a very disappointing experience Sunday (in 1999) in Brookline,” Darren Clark said. “The Americans played fantastic, we just didn’t play the way we should have. To come back this year and play the team we had, everyone was writing us off saying there was no chance. And it’s great to come and win. Great to show that anything can happen in match play. That’s what happened this week.

2006 Ryder Cup Final Day

Year: 2006
Captains: Tom Lehman (USA), Ian Woosnam (Europe)
Venue: Gay Club
Winner: Europe, 18½-9½

During this time, Americans dominated the PGA Tour, while it had been seven years since a European player had won a major championship.

But when it came to the Ryder Cup, the Europeans were in the midst of a dynasty.

In 2006, Europe matched its record-winning margin set two years earlier at Oakland Hills en route to its first Ryder Cup three-peat. Minutes after 2023 European captain Luke Donald recorded a putt for Europe to retain the trophy, rookie Henrik Stenson rolled in the winning putt.

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It was Europe’s fifth win in six Ryder Cups.

„It shows it’s not an individual sport,” European team member David Howell said after the win. „The Ryder Cup, it’s about the team. I think it’s debatable whether we do it better than the Americans, but we do it as well as anybody.

2010.jpg

Year: 2010
Captains: Corey Pavin (USA), Colin Montgomery (Europe)
Venue: Celtic Manor Resort
Winner: Europe, 14½-13½

Since a rousing victory at Valhalla in 2008, the Americans haven’t quite gotten what they hoped for.

Europe led 9½-6½ in Monday’s singles matches due to inclement weather. However, the Americans started to come back and a victory was achieved when 21-year-old Rickie Fowler won his last three holes to halve his match with Edoardo Molinari.

For the first time since 1991, the Ryder Cup was decided by a singles final – Graeme McDowell vs. Hunter Mahan. The United States needed Mahan to halve his game to retain the trophy, but McDowell birdied the par-3 17th for the European’s sixth in eight attempts.

Although they didn’t get the result they wanted, the Americans’ rally lightened the mood after the defeat.

„I think they should all be proud of themselves,” Pavin said afterward. „Like I told them all week, they play for each other. We’re a team, and I’m proud of each one of them, how they played this week, how they fought, how they hung in there.

Singles Tournaments - 2014 Ryder Cup

Year: 2014
Captains: Tom Watson (USA), Paul McKinley (Europe)
Location: Gleneagles
Winner: Europe, 16½-11½.

America failed to avenge the miracle in Medina two years ago with a lackluster performance in Scotland. The Americans trailed 10-6 in singles Sunday, but unlike in 1999 and 2012, that score won’t produce an inspiring comeback or collapse (depending on how you look at it). Instead, Europe won eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups.

2018 Ryder Cup - Singles

Year: 2018
Captains: Jim Furyk (USA), Thomas Bjorn (Europe)
Venue: Le Golf National
Winner: Europe, 17½-10½

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After America’s sensational win at Hazeltine in 2016, the Americans had high hopes that they could end a 25-year winless drought across the Atlantic and claim a win for the first time in 27 years.

But again, the Europeans outnumbered the Americans in front of the home fans.

Europe recorded its biggest win in more than a decade, with the US collectively underperforming outside of newcomers Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failed to register a point with time running out in their careers to claim that elusive victory on European soil.

„For me personally, I went 0-4,” Woods said. „Obviously very disappointed. Those four points didn’t go to us. It went to them. To end the Ryder Cup that way, it’s not good for me personally because I didn’t help my teammates get any points. At the end of the day, we came here as a team and won or We lost and unfortunately we lost this one.

Team USA bounced back three years later with a historic 19-9 trouncing of the Whistling Straits after the tournament was postponed for a year due to Covid-19.

Now, the U.S. heads to the Marco Simone GC in Rome, Italy, looking to back up its win in Wisconsin and end a drought that has lasted more than three decades. And US captain Zach Johnson believes the 12-member US squad is more than up to the task.

„What’s in the past is in the past,” Johnson said. „It’s a great new opportunity, and these 12 guys are going to push to achieve it, the main goal, which is definitely to keep the Cup in America.”

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