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The 15 most consequential moments in Ryder Cup history

USA golfer, Patrick Reed reacts after making a long par put to half the hole with european, Rory McIlroy, Sunday morning in a match. ] JERRY HOLT  jerry.    The Ryder Cup match play Sunday October 2, 2016 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.  (Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

What is a "consequential moment?” Well, at the risk of sounding as irksome as Ian Poulter looked to American fans at the 2004 Ryder Cup—I mean, imagine watching this guy kick your butt on home soil—a consequential moment is a moment that has consequences. In other words, something big happened, and because it happened, things changed.

The Ryder Cup has gone through several evolutions in its long history, to the point that many historians and writers divide it into distinct eras, sub-eras and sub-sub-eras. These transformations didn't happen by accident; in each case, a specific incident sparked the change. Taken together, all of these metamorphoses combined to make the Ryder Cup into the competitive juggernaut it is today.

In the list that follows, we'll pick out the most transformative moments in the history of this great event. Some happened on the course, some happened off, but all of them forced the institution of the Ryder Cup to change in a critical way. Considering the excitement and drama the friendly match between the United States and Europe generates today, we're grateful for them all.