The 33rd Ryder Cup Matches, also known as the "Battle of Brookline", were held September 24–26, 1999, in the United States at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb southwest of Boston.
The American team won the competition by a margin of 14½ to 13½, The Europeans, leading 10–6 heading into the final round, needed only 4 points on the final day to retain the cup. The Americans rallied on the Sunday, winning the first 6 matches of the day to surge into the lead. Further wins by Steve Pate and Jim Furyk took them into a 14–12 lead. The Americans recaptured the Ryder Cup when Justin Leonard halved his match with José María Olazábal. With the match all-square Leonard holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. Olazabal then missed his 22-foot birdie putt to leave Leonard one up with just one hole to play, assuring him of a half point and guaranteeing an American victory.
The behavior of the U.S. team was criticized after they raucously invaded the 17th green after Leonard had holed his long putt but before Olazábal had attempted his shorter putt. The incident which was viewed by many as appalling sportsmanship. Veteran broadcaster Alistair Cooke described the last day of the tournament as "a date that will live in infamy" in a Letter from America entitled "The arrival of the golf hooligan".
The American win was the largest final day come-from-behind victory in Ryder Cup history, although Europe achieved the same feat in 2012. It is widely regarded as one of the most impressive come-from-behind victories in recent sports history.
This was one of the last public appearances of Payne Stewart, who died in a plane crash less than a month later.
Members of the U.S. team spoke out in press conferences in what appeared to be a blatant attempt to bait certain members of the European team into a confrontational response. Jeff Maggert being one of the worst offenders when (at the time ranked 18 in the world) lavishly and outspokenly said "lets face it, we've got the worlds' 12 best players". Colin Montgomerie was one of the first to respond detailing "You want someone to bite?, well I'm not going to!" Payne Stewart also claimed by the strength of the European team, they should be caddying for the U.S. team not playing against them.
The bad atmosphere continued into the week with the American fans heckling and abusing the European players to the point that Payne Stewart, playing Montgomerie in the Sunday singles, picked his ball up on the 18th fairway and conceded the match out of courtesy to Montgomerie who seemed to be the target of the majority of the fans taunts. Analysis of the event in its aftermath seemed to conclude that the U.S. team and their fans' behavior throughout the matches had been unacceptable which led to apologies from many of the American players. Many American journalists conceded that the matches had become so intense to the point that they were no longer being played in the spirit that Samuel Ryder had intended.
On November 18, 1999 Captain Ben Crenshaw and his two co-captains, Bill Rogers and Bruce Lietzke, recounted events before a black tie dinner held for members of the Men's Golf association of the San Antonio Country Club where Co-Captain Rogers was Director of Golf at the time. Those events just 8 weeks prior were captured and posted on YouTube:
In the Sunday singles, Justin Leonard playing José María Olazábal in the ninth match of the order arrived at the green all square with at that point the U.S. team having 14 points and only requiring Leonard's point or half a point to make the remarkable comeback complete. Putting first from over 40 feet from the hole, he sank the putt meaning if Jose didn't hole his putt of roughly 25 feet then USA would be guaranteed victory as Leonard would be 1up with one hole to play thus gaining at least half a point. When Leonard's putt went in, almost the entire U.S. team and some fans ran onto the green to congratulate him being completely oblivious to the fact should Olazábal hole his putt then the match would technically still not be over. Many of the players and camera crew who ran onto the green to film the incident allegedly walked over the putting line of Olazábal which goes against the etiquette of golf, however no video evidence exists to prove either way.
This incident was met with extreme criticism from the worlds' watching media accusing the Americans of bad sportsmanship. Many of the European players were extremely critical of their actions including Sam Torrance one of the vice captains calling the American's behavior "disgusting". Tom Lehman who was singled out as one of the worst offenders admitted the U.S. team had been more than over-exuberant on the final day of the competition and apologized on the teams' behalf.
The Country Club, located in Brookline, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest country clubs in the United States. It was one of the five charter clubs which founded the United States Golf Association, and has hosted numerous USGA tournaments including the U.S. Open in 1913, won by then-unknown Francis Ouimet. The club is one of the largest of its kind in the northeastern U.S., with about 1300 members.
The 33rd Ryder Cup Matches were covered live in the United States for all five sessions. USA Network covered the Friday action, with Bill Macatee and Peter Kostis in the 18th tower. The weekend was covered live by NBC Sports, with Dick Enberg and Johnny Miller in the 18th tower, Dan Hicks calling holes, and on-course reporters Gary Koch, Mark Rolfing, Roger Maltbie, and John Schroeder. Jim Gray conducted interviews, and on the final day was also used as a fifth on-course reporter. On the weekend, former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher was brought in as a guest analyst to provide a European perspective.
In the UK, BBC and Sky Sports both had a presence, with Peter Alliss and Ewen Murray being the lead broadcaster for each.
The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format used from 1991 to 2002 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.
The 1999 European Team Points Table began in September 1998, and concluded on August 22, 1999, after the BMW International Open. The top 10 players in the Points Table qualified automatically for the team. Captain Mark James then left out the number 11 player Robert Karlsson and the experienced (but out-of-form) Bernhard Langer by instead selecting Andrew Coltart and Jesper Parnevik as the two 'wild card' players to round out the team.
Captains picks are shown in yellow; the world rankings and records are at the start of the 1999 Ryder Cup.
The 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup Team was chosen on the basis of points compiled by the PGA of America, early 1998, through the 81st PGA Championship, August 12–15, 1999. Points were awarded for top-10 finishes at PGA Tour co-sponsored or sanctioned events, with added emphasis on major championships and events played during the Ryder Cup year. The top 10 finishers on the points list automatically qualified for the 12-member team, and U.S. Captain Ben Crenshaw selected the final two players—Steve Pate and Tom Lehman.
Captains picks are shown in yellow; the world rankings and records are at the start of the 1999 Ryder Cup.
Paul Lawrie hit the opening tee shot to begin the 33rd Ryder Cup Matches. The Americans got off to a good start when Tom Lehman chipped in at the first hole, but the matches quickly swung toward Europe's favor. With the Americans' top two pairings losing, the Europeans gained confidence, finding a dynamic duo in Jesper Parnevik and Sergio García.
Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke defeated Tiger Woods and David Duval, the top two players in the world rankings. Woods missed a short eagle putt at the 14th that would have squared the match, while Westwood hit a fantastic chip shot at the final hole to secure victory. Both Duval and Woods were shut out on day one.
The day's best match, and arguably the best team match of the week, pitted Parnevik and García against Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. Parnevik holed out for eagle at the par-4 eighth, putting him and García a combined 6-under-par for the match, but just 1 up. At the 13th, Furyk chipped in from near a pond to square the match, giving the American fans a chance to go into a frenzy. At the next hole, Garcia pitched in for an eagle from just the right of the green at the par 5, putting Europe back in front. At the 16th hole, with the Americans 1 down, Mickelson hit his tee shot inside of four feet from the hole. He was left with the short putt to square the match, but missed it, and the Americans continued to trail. At the final hole, Mickelson again put the ball within five feet of the hole, but again missed the putt, leaving the Americans with an agonizing 1 down loss, and keeping Parnevik and García unbeaten.
Tiger Woods won his first match of the week, teaming with new partner Steve Pate. Woods eagled 14 while Pate hit a shot from the rough at the 18th to within 15 feet to secure the win over Pádraig Harrington and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.
Jesper Parnevik and Sergio García won their third straight match, dominating the back nine to handily beat Justin Leonard and Payne Stewart.
The final match on the course pitted Jeff Maggert and Hal Sutton against Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie. Maggert took the match into his hands in the final holes, making a long birdie putt at 17 to put the Americans in front, then sealing the win by hitting his approach within 5 feet at the final hole.
With the Americans desperate to climb back into the contest, Captain Ben Crenshaw changed up some pairings in hope of making up at least two points. After playing with Maggert during the first three sessions, Sutton teamed with Leonard, but could only produce a half against the Spanish duo of Miguel Angel Jiménez and José María Olazábal.
Woods and Pate played together again, facing Montgomerie and Lawrie. Pate chipped in for birdie at the first hole, just as Lehman had done the day before, also while playing with Woods. However, the world #1 missed key putts on the back nine and lost for the third time in four matches.
Phil Mickelson finally found his game, nearing holing out for eagle at the 10th, as he and Tom Lehman defeated Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.
The most dramatic finish of the session came in the match pitting Davis Love III and David Duval against García and Parnevik. Love had hit a heroic approach at the 9th from a large rock formation to secure an eagle, followed by a Duval birdie at 10 to go 1 up. Parnevik then responded by pitching in for a par at the 12th to halve the hole, causing García to engage in a large display of emotion, running onto the green pumping his fists, then doing a victory lap. However, the Americans were on the verge of handing the European duo their first loss of the week, with Love and Duval still 1 up on the final hole. Both Love and García had birdie opportunities. Love's putt was to win the match, but he missed. García then holed his birdie to salvage a half point, keeping he and Parnevik undefeated for the week, and causing another wild European celebration.
No team had previously come back from more than two points down on the final day to win the Ryder Cup. Team Europe captain Mark James put most of the team's strength at the back of the lineup. Meanwhile, Ben Crenshaw arranged the American lineup to put most of the strength at the beginning, knowing that a fast start was needed if the Americans were going to recover from the four point deficit. This led to several early mismatches. James had not played three of his rookies during team play: Jarmo Sandelin, Jean van de Velde, and Andrew Coltart. Due to the opposite strategies, this resulted in the three rookies playing their first Ryder Cup matches against the some of strongest American players: Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, and Tiger Woods.
Tom Lehman and Lee Westwood, playing in the lead match, halved the first three holes. However, the Europeans seemed to pick up where they had left off when Darren Clarke chipped in at the opening hole, though Hal Sutton squared the match at the next hole and would not trail again. The matches were close in the early stages, but then Love chipped in at the 5th for a birdie, which seemed to inspire his teammates. Woods, looking much more comfortable in individual play, followed with a chip-in of his own a few minutes later at the 8th, which caused an enormous roar from the crowd that could be heard through the course. The Americans now had the lead in the first six matches. Love secured the first point of the day, winning 6 & 5 over Van de Velde, followed quickly by Lehman and Sutton. Mickelson and Sandelin previously had a history with each other, stemming from the 1996 Alfred Dunhill Cup. Sandelin drew the ire of the American fans, who were well aware of the incident, which led to a strange exchange at the second hole. Sandelin missed a short putt for birdie, for which the crowd cheered, prompting Sandelin to raise his hands in mock acknowledgement of the cheering. He would never look comfortable and lose to Mickelson 4 & 3. Jesper Parnevik, separated from García, looked out of sorts, losing six of the first eight holes against David Duval, and would lose by a five-hole margin. Woods then closed out Coltart to give the U.S. a 12–10 lead, their first lead of the week.
The Americans had won the first six matches of the day. Pádraig Harrington got the Europeans their first point of the day when his opponent Mark O'Meara could not escape a bunker at the final hole. Steve Pate answered by defeating Miguel Ángel Jiménez. The biggest European win came from the anchor match, with Paul Lawrie winning three of the first eight holes against Jeff Maggert, and going on to win 4 & 3. However, Sergio García lost by the same margin to Jim Furyk, his first loss of the week. Both Parnevik and García lost by large margins in singles after going undefeated in team play.
The Americans now led 14–12, with two matches on the course. The U.S. now needed just half a point to win, while Europe needed two points to retain the cup in a tie situation. The remaining matches pitted Colin Montgomerie against Payne Stewart, and José María Olazábal against Justin Leonard. Montgomerie and Stewart had gone back and forth for much of the front nine, with both players making several long putts. Montgomerie then won the 12th to move 2 up. Stewart won the 14th, while both players found trouble at 15, and both faced lengthy par putts. Montgomerie missed from 15 feet, while Stewart holed from 35 feet to square the match with three holes to play. Stewart's excited fist pump has been used on many Ryder Cup promotional materials, including NBC's telecast opens, since the American's death a month later.
Meanwhile, the other match appeared to be a blowout with Olazábal leading Leonard 4 up with just seven holes to play. However, the Spaniard played the next three holes in 5-6-5, losing all three, to drop his lead to one hole. Leonard then sunk a 40-foot putt at the 15th to square the match, a scene very similar to Stewart's putt at the same green. At the 17th, Leonard had another 40 footer for birdie, with Olazábal about 15 feet closer. Leonard holed the unlikely birdie, sending the American team into a frenzy. The team, their wives and NBC cameramen all ran onto the green to hug Leonard, with the cameramen allegedly stepping in Olazábal's line. Eventually order was restored, and Olazábal had a 25-foot putt to keep Europe's hope alive. He missed, and the American comeback was complete, with Leonard dormie, guaranteeing the half point needed by the U.S.
With the crowd in a frenzy and the matches already decided, Stewart picked up the ball of Montgomerie and conceded the final match to the Europeans in a gesture of sportsmanship. This made the final score 14½–13½ officially.
Each entry refers to the Win–Loss–Half record of the player.