It’s a unique sporting battle, one that pits the US against Europe over three days of intense competition. For over 90 years, the Ryder Cup has captivated sport fans.


Born in the USA

A team of British golfers traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts for the first Ryder Cup in 1927. The gold trophy, donated by British businessman Samuel Ryder, went to the Americans. Credit: Brooke / Topical Press Agency / Getty

US domination

From 1935 the USA took a stranglehold on the competition. In 18 matches over 22 years, Britain won just once -- at Lindrick in England in 1957. Credit: Allsport Hulton / Archive

The Concession

GB’s only other highlight was the famous 1969 tie at Royal Birkdale, when Jack Nicklaus conceded Tony Jacklin's short putt on the 18th. “I don't think you would have missed it, but I wasn't going to give you the chance," Nicklaus said. Credit: PA / Getty

Europe joins in

Irish players were welcomed alongside the British in 1973, but six years later the team expanded to Europe to rejuvenate the event. Credit: Getty

The Europeans still lost heavily, but a new Ryder Cup era had begun, paving the way for today's global mega-event. Credit: Brian Morgan / Getty

Seve Ballesteros

The swashbuckling Spaniard made his debut in 1979 but was banned in 1981 because of a row over appearance fees. In 1983 new captain Tony Jacklin pleaded with him to return. Seve agreed, and his spirit drove Europe forward. Credit: Simon Bruty / Getty

Europe breaks USA stranglehold

Jacklin returned as captain for the 1985 matches at The Belfry, England, and the inspired European team beat the USA for the first time since 1957. Credit: David Cannon / Getty

Triumph in America

The USA had never lost on home soil but Jacklin took a strong European side to Muirfield Village, Ohio in 1987. On a tense final day, Ballesteros sealed an historic 14½-13½ win against Nicklaus’ Americans. Credit: Simon Bruty / Getty

One of Jacklin’s masterstrokes was to pair Seve with 21-year-old countryman Jose Maria Olazabal, launching the greatest partnership in Ryder Cup history. They won 11 and halved two of their 15 matches together. Credit: David Cannon / Getty

Last USA win in Europe

Tom Watson oversaw a successful defence of the Cup at The Belfry in 1993 – the last time the Americans won in Europe. Credit: PA Images / Getty

Captain Seve

Ballesteros was made captain for the 1997 matches at Valderrama in Spain – the first in continental Europe -- and he willed his side to a second straight win. Credit: Ross Kinnaird / Allsport

The USA made a fast start, and soon needed a half point for a remarkable win. When Justin Leonard holed a huge birdie putt on 17, the Americans stormed the green. Olazabal then missed, assuring Leonard a half. The US behavior was slammed as unsportsmanlike. Credit: Stephen Munday / Allsport

Europe takes charge

Scotland’s Sam Torrance, who holed the winning putt in 1985, was the victorious captain in 2002. “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” he said, deflecting praise to his players. Credit: Adrian Dennis / AFP / Getty

The odd couple

At Oakland Hills in 2004, captain Hal Sutton paired US stars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together on the first day. Their relationship had never been warm and they lost twice. Europe won by a record-equaling 18½-9½ margin. Credit: Al Messerschmidt / WireImage

Tears for Darren

Europe clinched a third straight win in 2006 in an emotional week at the K Club near Dublin, following the recent death of Darren Clarke’s wife Heather from breast cancer. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty

Valhalla victory

Captain Paul Azinger led an inspired USA side to victory at Valhalla, Kentucky in 2008, the only American bright spot in the midst of six European wins. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty

Miracle at Medinah

The 2012 event outside Chicago was emotional from the outset for Europe, with Olazabal as captain at the first Ryder Cup since the death from cancer of Ballesteros the year before. Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty

The USA began in commanding fashion and by Saturday afternoon it led 10-4 and was up in the final two matches. Europe was staring at humiliation. Credit: Montana Pritchard / PGA of America / Getty

But Ian Poulter played like a man possessed alongside Rory McIlroy. The mad-eyed Englishman birdied each of the final five holes to secure an unlikely point. The Europeans were buzzing, despite trailing 10-6 going into Sunday. “We have a pulse,” said Poulter. Credit: Getty / Mike Ehrmann

What followed has become the stuff of legend. Europe won eight of the 12 singles matches and halved another to clinch a remarkable 14½-13½ win, known as “The Miracle at Medinah.” Credit: Getty / Mike Ehrmann

Lefty speaks his mind

Tom Watson returned as captain for the 2014 cup at Gleneagles, but his side was unable to halt Europe’s winning streak. Afterwards Mickelson slammed Watson’s captaincy. The fallout led to the launch of a US task force to address shortcomings. Credit: Getty / Harry How

USA strikes back

With some big-name firepower, and with the injured Woods as a vice-captain, USA hopes were high heading into Hazeltine in 2016. Credit: Getty / Jim Watson

Golf mourned the death of Palmer in the days before the event, but USA dominated a boisterous week and won 17-11, its biggest margin of victory since 1981. Credit: Getty / Ross Kinnaird

Le Crunch

Behind the imperious pairing dubbed ‘Moliwood’ -- Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood -- Europe regained the trophy at first Ryder Cup held in France in 2018. Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

A long wait

After a year's delay due to the pandemic, the Ryder Cup travels to Whistling Straits in Wisconsin for the 43rd edition of the famous competition. Credit: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images


  • Words by Tom McGowan and Rob Hodgetts
  • Design and Development Brad Yendle, Byron Manley, Mark Oliver and Henrik Pettersson
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