The Ryder Cup is every two years, and typically either the United States team or the European team has a deficit they have to try to overcome in the 12 Sunday singles matches. The team defending the Ryder Cup needs to reach 14 total points from 28 matches, and the team seeking to win back the Ryder Cup needs to reach 14.5 points to make it theirs once again.
Every once in a while, the trailing team completes a final-day comeback and wins the Ryder Cup. However, what’s the biggest final-day Sunday comeback in Ryder Cup history?
The biggest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history is 4 points, with the United States team and European team each once coming back from a 10-6 Saturday night deficit.
The first time a team came back from 4 points down heading into Sunday was in 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. The United States team had fallen down 10-6 at home to the Mark James-led European side. However, on Saturday night, a prescient American captain Ben Crenshaw said he had a “good feeling” about coming back on Sunday. The American side rallied with 8.5 points on Sunday, capped by Justin Leonard earning the winning half-point in his match with Jose Maria Olazabal.
Ironically, 13 years later, Olazabal was the captain for the European side at Medinah Country Club in Chicago when the tables were turned. The 2012 US Ryder Cup team was rolling late on Saturday when the Europeans managed to snag afternoon points to get to a 10-6 deficit to Davis Love III’s American team. That proved to be enough for the European team, playing under the appeal to do what Seve Ballesteros, long-time Ryder Cup partner for Olazabal, would try to do.
In the 11th match of the day, Martin Kaymer beat Steve Stricker to secure the 14th point, meaning the Europeans would retain the cup as they had won in 2010. Francesco Molinari earned a half-point from Tiger Woods in the anchor match, meaning the Europeans earned 8.5 points on Sunday and beat the Americans rather than securing a tie.
The four-point comeback has only happened on American soil, never on European soil.