Continued from page 1

Brian Huggett was lining up a 4-foot putt to halve his match against Billy Casper when he heard an enormous roar from the 17th, and assumed Jacklin had closed out his match against Nicklaus. That would mean his putt was for the win, and under enormous pressure, he made it.

Alas, Jacklin had made a 40-foot eagle to square the match, and he and Nicklaus came down the 18th with the Ryder Cup hanging in the balance. Nicklaus faced a 5-footer, while Jacklin was just inside 3 feet. In his first Ryder Cup, Nicklaus made it for 4. Jacklin now had to make his to halve the match.

Nicklaus instead picked up his coin and conceded the match, resulting in the first tie in Ryder Cup history _ 16-16. The Americans still retained the cup, although captain Sam Snead was miffed that Nicklaus didn’t make him putt.

“I don’t think you would have missed that putt, but under these circumstances I would never give you the opportunity,” Nicklaus told him.

It is considered the greatest act of sportsmanship in the history of the Ryder Cup.

___

3. THE GREAT AMERICAN COMEBACK (1999)

The 1999 Ryder Cup began with a flap over whether the American players should have any stake in the millions of dollars the PGA of America made off the event. None of them looked to be worth a dime against Europe at The Country Club, where 19-year-old Sergio Garcia made a dynamic debut and every move made by U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw turned out to be the wrong one.

European captain Mark James didn’t bother playing three players until Sunday singles, and seven of his players never sat out. It appeared to work just fine with a 10-6 lead after two days. Before heading off to the team room, Crenshaw wagged his finger at the camera and said, “I’m a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this.” And with that, he walked out of the room.

Crenshaw loaded the front of his singles lineup, and the Americans won the first seven matches, none of them even reaching the 18th hole. Players whipped up the crowd into a flag-waving frenzy, and the emotions spilled over the top at the end. Justin Leonard rallied from 4 down against Jose Maria Olazabal, and they were all square playing the 17th hole. A halve would be enough to complete the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.

Leonard’s 45-foot birdie putt rammed into the back of the cup, and his teammates (and wives) stormed across the green _ even though Olazabal still had a 25-foot birdie putt to halve the hole. When order was restored, Olazabal missed and the Americans had won the cup.

___

2. BEAR’S TRAP _ CAPTAIN JACK LOSING IN HIS OWN LAIR (1987)

Europe had finally ended a losing streak that had lasted 13 matches dating to 1957 when it won at The Belfry in 1985. But it still had never won the Ryder Cup on American soil, and this looked to be a daunting task. The European team was in the midst of internal turmoil, and it faced a U.S. squad with Jack Nicklaus as the captain, playing on the Muirfield Village course that Nicklaus built.

And it was no contest.

Story Continues →