The United States has 27 Ryder Cup wins (27-14-2 all-time), but none was more memorable than its 1999 triumph at the country club in Brookline, Mass. after two frustrating days of team play, us. uu. entered Sunday’s singles session at 10-6. up to that point in the event’s history, no team had ever come back more than two points down in singles. but eh The US, under Texan Ben Crenshaw, came out and won the first six games on Sunday, then added two and a half more points to contend for the European Cup, 14.5-13.5. (if the teams had tied 14, all that day, europe would have retained the cup).
here are 15 interesting facts you may not know or may have forgotten about the 1999 ryder cup:
Reading: Payne stewart ryder cup 1999
• Tom Lehman hit all 16 greens in regulation by defeating Lee Westwood, 3 and 2, in Sunday’s opening singles match. (He said he hit it just as well as he had in his 1995 singles win over seven crossbowmen, but this time he made more putts.) But Lehman did not deliver the first U.S. point that Sunday. Davis Love III did it with a 6 and 5 choke off Jean van de Velde.
• the us 10-6 deficit. uu. through two days was shocking for several reasons, but above all this: the us. He had 10 players on his team ranked 16th or better in the world, including three of the top four (#1 Woods, #2 David Duval, #4 Love). Europe had just three players in the top 16: Colin Montgomerie (3), Lee Westwood (5), and Jesper Parnevik (15).
• justin leonard is remembered as the hero in that ryder cup for recovering from a deficit of 4 attempts (after 10 holes) against josé maría olazábal and sinking the clutch 45 feet for birdie on the 17th hole of the country club to ensure the half point of the usa necessary for victory. But do you know he walked out of brookline still not earning a full point? Olazabal birdied the last hole to cut it in half, leaving Leonard at 0-3-5 in his first two Ryder Cups (1997, 1999). He wouldn’t secure his first full point until nine years later, at Valhalla, when he and fellow Texan Chaser Mahan won their inaugural foursomes match against Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey.
• On a hunch, Crenshaw played Leonard over Jeff Maggert on Saturday afternoon, and Leonard didn’t play well, prompting NBC’s Johnny Miller to say on air that Leonard probably shouldn’t have been there. he turned on leonard and us uu. team when some players read the comments the next morning before singles. But here was Johnny on Leonard’s heroic putt on the 17th green: “It had to be the best putt in Ryder Cup history, no question about it.”
watch: highlights from the furyk/garcia ’99 singles match
• parnevik and sergio garcia played four team games under european captain mark james and finished 3-0-1. In his first match on Day 1, Parnevik-Garcia defeated Tiger Woods and Tom Lehman in foursomes, 2-and-1. Europe captain Mark James had seven rookies on that 1999 team, and you probably remember three (Jarmo Sandelin, Van de Velde, Andrew Coltart) did not appear until Sunday’s singles. (Crenshaw later told Golf Digest: “He just couldn’t believe he sent them three in a row.”) rookies played slots 3-5 and didn’t have much luck with the opponents they drew. Sandelin lost to Phil Mickelson, 4 and 2; they go from velde lost for love, 6 and 5; and coltart lost by woods, 3 and 2.
• Mickelson and Sandelin knew they were in for a tense singles match as they had some history and weren’t the best of friends. On the second hole of his match, Sandelin hit a shot from 3 feet. mickelson wasn’t about to give it to him, and he was waiting for sandelin to mark his ball so he could play his next shot. Sandelin groped in his pockets for a marker, but he didn’t have one. “jarmo, do you need a coin?” shouted a fan from across the gallery ropes. he nodded yes. a cascade of coins from the crowd descended on him. As Jim “Bones” McKay, Mickelson’s caddy at the time, told the Boston Globe, “I’m telling you, it was raining coins.” mickelson made two putts for his par and sandelin missed his putt.
• united states players ranked in the world top 10 that week: 1. woods; 2. duval; 4. love iii; 8. Payne Stewart; 10. hal sutton.
• remember those, ahem, busy burgundy shirts that ee wears. uu. the team rocked on Sunday, showing great American flair. snapshots of past ryder cups? one of those shirts (new, unworn) sold for $3,906 at auction this week. the 1999 ryder cup lives on.
more: a brief history of ’99 u.s. ryder cup t-shirt
• In his singles match against Woods, Coltart held his own for a player participating in his first Ryder Cup match. on the fourth hole, he hit a shot from 3 feet; Woods needed to respond and he did, getting within 3 feet. As they walked toward the green, Coltart told Woods, “Let’s go to the next one.” and woods said, “no, we’re going to put these on.” After his 3-2 win, Woods would add, “For some reason, that got me excited.”
• padraig harrington was one of seven rookies from europe that year, and many us. fans were getting their first look at the future three-time grand slam champion. but harrington was terribly slow. on a couple of his holes sunday, he was walking onto the green from 100+ yards to check out the green surface, and his slow play was wearing down mark o’meara, his opponent. Said NBC’s Dick Berg, who was on the call with Johnny Miller, “Harrington’s pre-shooting routine gives the Boston Marathon a whole new meaning.”
• behind 10-6 on saturday night, usa. uu. Captain Ben Crenshaw shook his finger and told the media, “I have a feeling about this,” and that night, George W. Bush, then Governor of Texas, addressed the players, wives and caddies in the team room and told them the story of Commander William Barrett Travis and his refusal to surrender at the Alamo in 1836. Crenshaw is an astute student of the game and his story, and it was not lost on him that leonard’s decisive putt had taken place on the green at no. 17, just across the street from where 1913 u.s. open champion francis ouimet had once lived. (Once José María Olazabal missed a putt to tie Leonard at 17, going 1 down, Crenshaw got down on one knee and kissed the green three times.) In the ensuing celebration, Crenshaw said, “The country club has been very kind to Americans in its storied past, and it showed it today.”
• europe had two captain picks that year and used them at coltart and parnevik. An interesting player left out of the team that year was Bernhard Langer. in a streak of 11 ryder cups (1981-2002) that was the only one in which langer did not participate. He played 42 games, had an all-time record of 21-15-6 and, in 2004, captained Europe in a lopsided victory over the United States. he was already 42 in ’99; To be fair to captain Mark James, although Coltart only played once (and lost), Parnevik finished 3-1-1.
• Montgomerie needed two putts on the last hole to defeat Payne Stewart in singles. Stewart, realizing how much heat Montgomerie had endured from a partisan crowd that afternoon, never got him kicked, conceding the hole in a graceful gesture. In eight Ryder Cup singles matches, Montgomerie was never defeated. his record: 6-0-2.
• One memorable scene: Spaniard José María Olazábal, who had struggled to hit the ball that week, stood on the second-floor balcony outside the Europe team room on Sunday night, throwing some of his the pilots who were at their locker in the crowd.
• The 1999 Ryder Cup marked Payne Stewart’s last appearance at the event, on October 1. on the 25th of that year, she was one of six people who died when the jet he was flying in (destination: dallas), crashed in south dakota. Stewart was 42 years old, and after the night of that 1999 win, he and Hal Sutton had a conversation about someday being Ryder Cup captains. sutton was captain in 2004; stewart never got a chance at him.
stewart had come to brookline a little rusty, having spent a lot of time in the previous weeks with his wife, tracey, and their two children. He went 0-2-1 that week, but relished the team’s victory and told his wife it was the perfect ending to a great season (he had won the US Open at No. 2 Pinehurst in June). from United States. After the team party that night, there is a photo of Stewart wearing American flag sweatpants and a T-shirt, a cigar in his mouth, champagne in one hand and a beer in the other. he is dancing on a piano. Phil Mickelson, the man Stewart had approached for that U.S. open crown, has the painting on a wall of his house. It’s the last time he saw Payne Stewart.
See also: Event Guide – Florida Cup 2021