Five great Ryder Cup finishes

Jed Court
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The 'Miracle of Medinah' would not have been possible without the heroics of Ian Poulter

The Ryder Cup returns later this month at Le Golf National in France, with its boisterous galleries, intense rivalries and team matchplay format unlike anything else in golf.

But the famous finishes are what linger in the memory the most, and here AFP Sport takes a look at five of the best from years gone by ahead of the start of the 42nd edition in three weeks' time:

1969 -- Europe 16 USA 16

Deciding match: Tony Jacklin (ENG) halved with Jack Nicklaus

-- One of the most famous gestures of sportsmanship in history came at the end of an acrimonious clash between Britain and the United States at Royal Birkdale.

Tensions were so high that the two captains, Eric Brown and Sam Snead, had to clam down the players during the second day. But in the final singles match, with the scores locked at 15-15, Jacklin eagled the 17th hole against visiting rookie Jack Nicklaus to send the contest up the last all-square.

After Nicklaus, who went on to become a record-breaking 18-time major champion, holed his par putt to retain the trophy, he conceded Jacklin's putt to ensure the Ryder Cup ended in a draw. Nicklaus famously told Jacklin: "I don't think you would have missed it, but I wasn't going to give you the chance, either."

1999 -- USA 14.5 Europe 13.5

Deciding match: Justin Leonard halved with Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP)

-- But Nicklaus' good will didn't leave a lasting impression on all future Ryder Cup stars, as displayed by the unsavoury scenes at the end of the 'Battle of Brookline'.

Having trailed 10-6 ahead of the Sunday singles, the Americans dragged themselves into a 14-12 lead, with Justin Leonard level against Jose Maria Olazabal on the 17th, needing just a half-point to seal a US victory.

The event was marred by accusations of cheating by the home team's course marshals, while American fans heckled the Europeans throughout. Leonard poured a long birdie putt into the hole on the penultimate green, and although Olazabal had still to putt, the American players invaded the green in delirious celebration.

The moment went down in infamy. "I had so many American friends who apologised to me for being Americans that day," Swedish player Jesper Parnevik told Golf Digest.

2010 -- Europe 14.5 USA 13.5

Deciding match: Graeme McDowell (NIR) bt Hunter Mahan 3&1

-- For the only time in history, the Ryder Cup ended on a Monday after torrential rain at Celtic Manor in Wales. Europe were defending a three-point lead in the singles as they looked to regain the trophy, but the Americans fought back to level at 13.5-13.5.

That left the fate of the Cup in the hands of Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan, but the 2010 US Open champion holed a curling birdie putt on the 16th to take a 2-up lead, and the American duffed a chip on the next hole to gift the home side the win.

1983 -- USA 14.5 Europe 13.5

Deciding match: Tom Watson bt Bernard Gallacher (SCO) 2&1

-- Jacklin and Nicklaus were the captains as Europe arrived at Palm Beach Gardens quietly confident of winning on American soil for the first time since 1929.

The matches were level at 8-8 ahead of the singles, but Lanny Wadkins grabbed a vital half with Jose Maria Canizares thanks to a birdie at the 18th. Tom Watson almost faltered late in the final match against Bernard Gallacher, but the Scot missed a short bogey putt to end European hopes.

That close encounter was the start of a shift in fortunes, though, and the USA have not won back-to-back Ryder Cups at home since.

2012 -- Europe 14.5 USA 13.5

Deciding match: Martin Kaymer (GER) bt Steve Stricker 1 up

-- The greatest of all Ryder Cup comebacks, Europe were facing a chastening defeat when 10-4 down midway through the Saturday evening fourballs. But Ian Poulter played like a man possessed in a stunning run of birdies to cut the gap to four points in the dimming light.

Olazabal's Europe, playing for the first time since the death of former talisman Seve Ballesteros, roared out of the blocks on Sunday and retained the trophy when German Martin Kaymer drained an eight-foot putt at the 18th to beat Steve Stricker.

Italian Francesco Molinari snatched a half with Tiger Woods to win the Ryder Cup outright, and the 'Miracle of Medinah' was complete.