1991 Ryder Cup

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29th Ryder Cup Matches
Dates   September 27–29, 1991
Venue   Kiawah Island Golf Resort
The Ocean Course
Location   Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Captains   Dave Stockton (USA)
Bernard Gallacher (Europe)
United States   14½    13½   Europe
United States wins the Ryder Cup



Kiawah Island is located in United States
Kiawah Island
Kiawah Island
Location in the United States

The 29th Ryder Cup Matches were held September 27–29, 1991, on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, southwest of Charleston.

The United States team won the competition by 14½ to 13½ points, winning back the Cup on the 18th hole of the final match. Bernhard Langer missed a six-foot (1.8 m) par putt which would have won his match and clinched a 14-all tie and retained the Ryder Cup for Europe.[1] It was the first win for the U.S. since 1983, after consecutive losses to Europe in 1985 and 1987 and a tie in 1989.[2] Due the fierce competition, gamesmanship and general over exuberance of the U.S. Team and their fans, these Ryder Cup Matches became known as the "War on the Shore."[1]

The Ocean Course later hosted the PGA Championship in 2012.


The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format in 1991 was as follows:

  • Day 1 (Friday) — 4 four-ball (better ball) matches in a morning session and 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in an afternoon session
  • Day 2 (Saturday) — 4 foursome matches in a morning session and 4 four-ball matches in an afternoon session
  • Day 3 (Sunday) — 12 singles matches

With a total of 28 points, 14½ points were required to win the Cup, and 14 points were required for the defending champion to retain the Cup. All matches were played to a maximum of 18 holes.


^ captain's selection[3][4]

Friday's matches[edit]

Morning foursomes[edit]

Europe Results United States
Ballesteros/Olazábal Europe 2 & 1 Azinger/Beck
Langer/James United States 2 & 1 Floyd/Couples
Gilford/Montgomerie United States 4 & 2 Wadkins/Irwin
Faldo/Woosnam United States 1 up Stewart/Calcavecchia
1 Session 3
1 Overall 3

Afternoon four-ball[edit]

Europe Results United States
Torrance/Feherty halved Wadkins/O'Meara
Ballesteros/Olazábal Europe 2 & 1 Azinger/Beck
Richardson/James Europe 5 & 4 Pavin/Calcavecchia
Faldo/Woosnam United States 5 & 3 Floyd/Couples

Saturday's matches[edit]

Morning foursomes[edit]

Europe Results United States
Feherty/Torrance United States 4 & 2 Irwin/Wadkins
James/Richardson United States 1 up Calcavecchia/Stewart
Faldo/Gilford United States 7 & 6 Azinger/O'Meara
Ballesteros/Olazábal Europe 3 & 2 Couples/Floyd
1 Session 3

Afternoon four-ball[edit]

Europe Results United States
Woosnam/Broadhurst Europe 2 & 1 Azinger/Irwin
Langer/Montgomerie Europe 2 & 1 Pavin/Pate
James/Richardson Europe 3 & 1 Wadkins/Levi
Ballesteros/Olazábal halved Stewart/Couples
Session ½
8 Overall 8

Sunday's singles matches[edit]

Europe Results United States
Nick Faldo Europe 2 up Raymond Floyd
David Feherty Europe 2 & 1 Payne Stewart
Colin Montgomerie halved Mark Calcavecchia
José María Olazábal United States 2 up Paul Azinger
Steven Richardson United States 2 & 1 Corey Pavin
Seve Ballesteros Europe 3 & 2 Wayne Levi
Ian Woosnam United States 3 & 1 Chip Beck
Paul Broadhurst Europe 3 & 1 Mark O'Meara
Sam Torrance United States 3 & 2 Fred Couples
Mark James United States 3 & 2 Lanny Wadkins
Bernhard Langer halved Hale Irwin
David Gilford halved[5][6] Steve Pate
13½ Overall 14½

Steve Pate injury criticism[edit]

On the eve of the games, Steve Pate and some other members of the U.S. team were involved in a minor caravan crash causing Pate to bruise his ribs and need hospital treatment. Much was discussed by the U.S. captain to either replace him at the last minute or carry on as planned.[7] The decision was taken to allow Pate to participate in the games causing him to sit out the first three sessions of play. The only session he did play in was a four-ball defeat to Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie on Saturday afternoon. Prior to the first singles tee off on Sunday the U.S. team announced that Steve Pate would be unable to play in the singles due to his earlier sustained injury. As a result, the match he was due to contend with David Gilford was automatically halved causing Gilford to miss out his singles match.

This brought heavy criticism from the general media and the European team feeling a sense of bad sportsmanship on behalf of the Americans. Especially considering U.S. captain Dave Stockton had chosen to play Pate in an earlier match thus risking causing further unnecessary injury to the player. In post-match interviews serious questions were asked by the European team of the American's reasoning and tactics behind the decision.[citation needed]

Ballesteros/Azinger feud[edit]

Ballesteros and Azinger had previously locked horns in 1989 when Ballesteros tried to have a scuffed ball taken out of play which Azinger disagreed with.[8] The bad blood escalated at Kiawah Island when on the morning of the Friday foursomes with Ballesteros partnering José María Olazábal against Paul Azinger and Chip Beck the Europeans noticed the Americans had changed the compression of the ball on the 7th tee which is in violation of the one-ball rule. Ballesteros accused his opponents of doing this at least three times since the start of the match. On speaking with the referee at first Azinger flatly denied it. However once it had become apparent to the Americans that they were not called up on the violation at the time of incident therefore could no longer be penalized by loss of hole they admitted to switching their ball.[citation needed] This incident was the stem of accusations of the U.S. side of repeated gamesmanship, bad sportsmanship and ill tactics in many future matches to come.

Since the mid-1980s, the European team had dominated the event including wins in 1985, 1987 and retaining the cup in 1989. With exception to 1993, the European team would continue to dominate until ill feelings between the two sides would come to a head in an explosive match at Brookline in 1999 where the U.S. side and their fans would again be accused of having the mindset of "anything to win" going against the spirit of how the matches were intended to be played.[9]


  1. ^ a b Garrity, John (October 7, 1991). "Blood, Sweat, and Tears". Sports Illustrated: 26. 
  2. ^ Green, Bob (September 30, 1991). "U.S. reclaims Ryder Cup from Europeans". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 11. 
  3. ^ Mossman, John (August 14, 1991). "Floyd, Beck picked for Ryder Cup team". The Dispatch (Lexington, North Carolina). Associated Press. p. 1C. 
  4. ^ Kelley, Brent. "Ryder Cup captain's picks and how they've fared". About.com. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ Steve Pate withdrew because of injury, so this match was not actually played.
  6. ^ Moriarty, Jim (September 13, 2004). "Secret envelope adds to the intrigue". ESPN. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Hudson, MaryAnn (September 26, 1991). "Car Crash May Hurt U.S. Team : Ryder Cup: Steve Pate suffers injured ribs. His status for matches against Europe is questionable.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Best Feuds in Golf – Paul Azinger vs. Seve Ballesteros". golf.com. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  9. ^ Davies, David (September 16, 2004). "Day of shame that refuses to die". The Guardian. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°36′43″N 80°01′23″W / 32.612°N 80.023°W / 32.612; -80.023