When Europe really began turning the tables on the USA in the Ryder Cup

The 1980s saw the pendulum swing to this side of the Atlantic

BY Raf Diallo 14:40 Thursday 29 September 2016, 14:40 29 Sep 2016

(L to R) Ian Woosnam, Howard Clark, Seve Ballesteros, captain Tony Jacklin, Sam Torrance, Paul Way and Bernhard Langer salute the crowd after victory in 1985 ©INPHO/Getty Images

As renowned English golf commentator Peter Alliss explained last week, tension between Europe and the USA at the Ryder Cup only really began in the 1980s.

After discussing his own experiences in the Ryder Cup in the 1950s and '60s, he explained what happened next.

"The middle [of the ‘80s] to the early ‘90s, that’s when the animosity [started], when we started to win," he told Off The Ball, although he does feel the media can also fuel that.

Previously, in the Ryder Cups up to 1977, Great Britain and Ireland (solely Great Britain up to 1971) had only won three of the tournaments, while the USA enjoyed dominance.

But as Alliss explained, the turning point was in the 1980s.

While, 1979 was the first Ryder Cup in which players from continental Europe took part, thereby creating Team Europe, it wasn't until 1985 that they beat the USA.

However, in 1983, a Europe team featuring Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo came close to toppling the USA, losing by a narrow 14½–13½ margin at the PGA National Club.

It was a Ryder Cup that was neck and neck until the end, given that it remained tied 8-8 after the first two days, before USA edged it in the final day single's matches.

Supporters salute team Captain Tony Jacklin after victory ©INPHO/Getty Images

Two years later at the Belfry, Europe's 1983 captain Tony Jacklin returned and led the continent to their first victory over USA and also began a period that prevented the US team from winning the tournament again until 1991. 

It was the first US loss since 1957. The pendulum swung on the Saturday after USA held a narrow lead on the Friday in 1985.

With the Ballesteros/Pinero duo, Langer/Brown and Rivero/Canizares pairs winning the Afternoon foursomes, Europe took control in '85 and finished things off on the final day.

In all they won 16½-11½ and significantly, many of that Europe team had majors under their belt. Sandy Lyle had won the '85 Open Championship just weeks before the Ryder Cup.

Ballasteros was a four-time major winner by the time 1985 came along.

Bernard Langer had already won that year's Masters. Jose Pinero had tied for third at the Open that year.

In contrast, prior to 1980, the list of European major winners was far more sparse with Ballesteros having won one and the 1983 and '85 captain Jacklin having won a major each in 1969 and 1970.

Thus the 1980s began an era in which Europe had players with experience of winning individually.

Since then Europe has either won or retained the Ryder Cup on 10 of the last 14 occasions and if you look at the current Europe team, major experience is strong.

From Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer are all major winners, as is captain Darren Clarke.

The USA aren't without some major winners too, but Team Europe's Ryder Cup dominance of late and experience of recent tournaments gives them an edge. 

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