After losing the event's debut two years earlier in the U.S., officials with the Great Britain team refused to allow American players to use clubs with steel shafts, which were approved for play by the USGA but not yet by the R&A (that would come in 1930). The American side ultimately lost the Cup, 7-5.
A heat wave in Columbus, Ohio, lifted temperatures to near triple digits. British officials contended the conditions contributed to their 9-3 loss to the Americans, led by Gene Sarazen who went 2-0 in his matches. Afterward, the British PGA petitioned to keep from having the competition held again in the mid-summer when played in the U.S.
1933/Southport & Ainsdale G.C.
1933/Southport & Ainsdale G.C.U.S. captain Walter Hagen got under the skin of British captain J.H. Taylor when he failed to turn up to exchange the order of play. When a second meeting was arranged, Hagen again was a no-show. Taylor, who didn't hide his contempt for Hagen, threatened to withdraw his team, which went on to win 6½-5½.
In the first Cup played in 10 years due to World War II, the U.S. thrashed Great Britain, 11-1. The Americans likely took inspiration from British captain Henry Cotton's demand in the last afternoon of practice that the irons of playing captain Ben Hogan and the rest of the American team be examined to see if the grooves were legal. All passed inspection.
Hogan, again the U.S. captain, returned the favor, questioning the legality of British players' clubs. Bernard Darwin, chair of the R&A rules committee, was summoned from a pre-dinner bath and deemed some clubs' grooves non-conforming. Ganton club pro Jock Ballentine subsequently spent the night filing the grooves so they were the proper depth.
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At the opening gala dinner for the two teams, British captain Dai Rees offered a long introductory speech, detailing to a point of excess all his players' accomplishments. Ben Hogan, U.S. captain for the third and last time, responded to the diatribe by naming his players in alphabetical order then offering one simple line to close: "The United States Ryder Cup team, the finest golfers in the world."
1969/Royal Birkdale G.C.
The two sides tied in a match known for Jack Nicklaus' concession of Tony Jacklin's putt in their deciding singles match. But enmity brewed throughout the competition. One notable incident involved British player Maurice Bembridge, who asked American Ken Still to move out of his eyeline while hitting a tee shot. Upset, Still stopped play and gratuitously moved other caddies and official from the same side of the tee box in an act of derision. It was perhaps in response to the fact GB&I captain Eric Brown (above, right) instructed his players before the event to not help the U.S. side look for their balls when hit into the rough.
1969/Royal Birkdale G.C.
Nicklaus, a Ryder Cup rookie, gave Jacklin his four-foot par putt on the 18th to halve their afternoon singles match and end the entire competition in a draw. What many feel is the most magnanimous gesture in Ryder Cup history, however, wasn't universally praised. U.S. captain Sam Snead publicly chastised Nicklaus.
1971/Old Warson C.C.
British players used club members for caddies, which proved costly when Bernard Gallacher's loop mistakenly asked Arnold Palmer what he used to hit a tee shot on the par-3 seventh during their second-day four-ball match. The breach of the advice rule resulted in the loss of hole. One down at the time, Gallacher's team lost 5 and 4, and the bad second day overall for the Brits cost them the Cup.
With the U.S. holding a 16-1-1 advantage in the competition since 1933, the decision is made to expand the GB&I team to include all of Europe. Traditionalists bristle, and the U.S. still wins by a lopsided 17-11 margin, but as time passes it proved to be the biggest factor in turning the event into the competitive spectacle that it has become.
Arguably the biggest mano-a-mano feud in Ryder Cup history started here when Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger were paired in Sunday singles. Early in the match Ballesteros asked to change a scuffed ball, only to have Azinger dispute it was unfit for play. A referee sided with Azinger. Ballesteros later contested whether Azinger took a proper drop from a water hazard on the 18th hole. Azinger eventually won the match, 1 up, but Europe won overall for the third straight time.
1991/The Ocean Course
With a name like "The War By the Shore," it had to be contentious. The Americans instigated things by posing for a military-inspired poster and wearing camouflage hats. The Europeans claimed the U.S. crowd crossed the line regarding sportsmanship. Ballesteros and Azinger resumed their squabbles with renewed accusations of rules violations. The U.S. won the tense competition when Bernhard Langer missed a six-foot par putt in his deciding match with Hale Irwin.
While both sides claimed they wanted a more civilized event after the bad blood at Kiawah, U.S. captain Tom Watson got things off on an awkward foot when he instructed his players to break from tradition and not sign the European team's menus at a pre-competition gala dinner. Watson feared it would unnecessarily prolong the event, apologizing afterward when the slight made headlines.
With the matches held in Spain at Valderrama, naturally Europe tapped Seve Ballesteros as captain. But his micromanagement of the event rankled the Americans. Specifically, Ballesteros' constant chatter with his players and ubiquitous driving around the course in his cart got under their skins. But the strategy was a winning one, as Europe was victorious, 14½-13½.
1999/The Country Club
The greatest American comeback in Ryder Cup history was tainted by the reaction on the 17th hole at Brookline when Justin Leonard made a lengthy putt to all but guarantee a halve of his singles match with Jose Maria Olazabal and clinch an improbable win for the U.S. When Leonard's ball disappeared, pandemonium ensued as American players, wives and officials races around -- and on -- the green to celebrate. Problem was Olazabal still had a putt to halve the hole, which he ultimately missed. European players voiced their frustration at the U.S. players (and fans) overzealousness.
2004/Oakland Hills C.C.
After Europe handed the U.S. its worst defeat in Ryder Cup history at Oakland Hills, Paul Casey stoked the flames when he told the London Daily Mail in a story recapping the victory: "We properly hate them. We wanted to beat them as badly as possible. Americans can be bloody annoying . . . Sometimes they infuriate me." Casey later apologized, but wound up losing a sponsor in the process.
U.S. captain Paul Azinger spent the week in Louisville rallying support from spectators, printing up 13th-man shirts to suggest they were a part of the team. European veteran Lee Westwood took umbrage, having an over-served spectator ejected. He later criticized Azinger for inciting poor fan behavior, which Westwood said included him receiving a 12:30 a.m. call to his hotel room with the voice on the other end wishing him "good luck."
Player and fan interaction had been relatively civil in recent Ryder Cups, but U.S. rookie Patrick Reed managed to draw the ire of the European crowd at Gleneagles with his provocative gestures aimed at giving his American team a spark. It reached its height during Sunday singles. After Reed’s opponent, Henrik Stenson holed a long par putt on the seventh hole and received a huge roar, Reed rolled in a par putt of his own to halve the hole. He then turned to the pro-European crowd and gestured “shush” with one finger to his lips. The fans eventually got to roar when Europe won 16½-11½ later in the afternoon.
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When you think of contentious Ryder Cup moments, it’s usually incidents between the two opposing sides. But perhaps the most tension in recent history happened at the post-Cup press conference at Gleneagles when the entire U.S. team was present and Phil Mickelson openly questioned the leadership of U.S. captain Tom Watson sitting not far from him on the podium. Phil’s comments ultimately led to a reassessment of how the U.S. approaches the Ryder Cup, with the creation of a Task Force to help identify ways the American team can create a blueprint for long-term success.