Biggest Wins and Losses in Ryder Cup Matches

Which golfers have pulled off the largest margins of victories (and suffered the biggest losing margins) in Ryder Cup matches? Asked another way, which golfers have had the biggest blowout wins and the worst losses in singles, foursomes and fourballs at the Ryder Cup? (Note: If you are looking for the biggest wins/losses in the Ryder Cup overall — the final score, Team USA vs. Team Europe — see biggest Ryder Cup blowouts.)

That's the question we answer below. The Ryder Cup currently includes the formats of foursomes, fourballs and singles match play, and matches are scheduled for 18 holes. So that's what we start with: the largest winning/losing margins in 18-hole matches. Below that you'll find the Ryder Cup records for 36-hole matches, which were the standard for the early part of the competition's history.

Largest Winning Margins in 18-Hole Ryder Cup Matches

Today, all matches in the Ryder Cup are scheduled for 18 holes. But the following matches ended well before reaching the 18th. These are the biggest blowouts, by format, in Ryder Cup history for 18 holes matches.

Singles

Twice in Ryder Cup history a golfer has won a singles match by an 8-and-7 score. Both times, the winner was American. In the 1989 Ryder Cup, Tom Kite defeated Howard Clark by 8 and 7 (meaning the match ended after the 12th hole, when Kite reached an insurmountable lead of eight holes ahead with only seven holes left on the course). And in the 1997 Ryder Cup, Fred Couples won by an 8-and-7 score over Ian Woosnam. No European golfer has yet won an 18-hole singles match by more than a 5-and-4 margin.

Foursomes

The largest winning margin in an 18-hole foursomes match is 7 and 6, and Kite is once again involved. In the 1979 Ryder Cup, Kite and partner Hale Irwin won by that score over Ken Brown and Des Smyth.

The 7-and-6 score has been achieved twice more since then. In the 1991 Ryder Cup, Mark O'Meara and Paul Azinger won by that score over Nick Faldo and David Gilford; and in the 2012 Ryder Cup, Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson defeated Luke Donald/Lee Westwood, 7 and 6.

The biggest winning foursomes margin by any European side is 7 and 5, achieved twice so far. The teams were Jose Rivero/Jose Maria Canizares (over Kite/Calvin Peete) in 1985; and Woosnam/Bernhard Langer (over Azinger/Payne Stewart) in 1993.

Fourballs

The score of 7 and 5 is the biggest blowout in the Ryder Cup history of the fourball format, achieved just once so far. That was in the 1981 Ryder Cup, when Lee Trevino and Jerry Pate teamed to dispatch Faldo and Sam Torrance by that score. The European record for fourball winning margin is 6 and 5, achieved multiple times.

What About 36-Hole Matches?

The fourball format was added to the Ryder Cup in 1963, after the competition had switched to 18-hole matches. Therefore, no 36-hole fourballs have ever been played. But 36-hole foursomes and 36-hole singles matches were played prior to 1961. In fact, they were standard through that point.

Biggest winning margin in 36-hole singles match: 10-and-8 by George Duncan over Walter Hagen in the 1929 Ryder Cup.

Biggest winning margin in 36-hole foursomes match: 10-and-9, first by Denny Shute/Hagen over Duncan/Arthur Havers in the 1931 Ryder Cup; then by Lew Worsham/Ed Oliver over Henry Cotton/Arthur Lees in the 1947 Ryder Cup.

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