The Cup They Couldn't Lose

America, the Ryder Cup, and the Long Road to Whistling Straits


By Shane Ryan

Formats and Prices




$22.99 CAD

The definitive story of the Ryder Cupthe event that pits the best golfers from America against the best from Europeexploring the modern history of the tournament that led to the showdown at Whistling Straits in 2021.

The task facing Steve Stricker at the 2021 Ryder Cup was enormous. It was his job, as the American captain, to stare down almost 40 years of Ryder Cup history, break a pattern of home losses that had persisted almost as long, and reverse the tide of European dominance in one of golf's most tense and emotional events. This was the epitome of a must-win, but it was also something more—in the entire 93-year history of the event, no American side had ever faced this kind of pressure. Starting on the morning of September 24, those 12 players competed not just for a Cup, or for pride, but to save the reputation of the U.S. team itself.

The great mystery of the Ryder Cup is that America loses despite having superior individual talent. The European renaissance began in the 1980s, led by the brilliant Tony Jacklin and Seve Ballesteros, and since then, the U.S. has suffered a slew of embarrassing defeats abroad and at home. The signs in 2021 weren’t good: Tiger Woods was out after his horrific car crash, Patrick Reed (“Captain America,” to his supporters) was hospitalized with double pneumonia weeks before the event, and America had to rely on its rising stars—including Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, who spent most of the year immersed in an escalating feud—to prove their mettle. Meanwhile, the European team had a few major stars of its own, like Jon Rahm, the world no. 1 and the first Spanish player ever to win the U.S. Open, and Rory McIlroy, the four-time major winner. Throw in the complications of a global pandemic, and the stage was set for one of the strangest Ryder Cups ever.

Following the drama in Wisconsin while deconstructing the rich history of the tournament, The Cup They Couldn't Lose tells the story of how the U.S. defeated Europe in record fashion, restored their status as golf’s global superpower, and transformed their entire way of thinking in order to truly understand the nature of the Ryder Cup.

**The Sports Librarian’s Best of 2022 – Sports Books**



The Ryder Cup is a three-day competition pitting the best golfers from the United States against the best from Europe. It has been staged every two years since 1927, with a lapse from 1937 to 1947 for World War II. It was delayed by a year in 2001 after the September 11 attacks, putting the Cup on even years, and is now back in odd years after another one-year delay in 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each team fields twelve players, a mixture of automatic qualifiers and captain’s picks, the balance of which has changed over time. The event uses the match play format, in which the score is kept by holes won and usually listed in reference to the winning team. As an example, if the American team wins holes one through three, they are 3-up, and if Europe wins the fourth hole, the US falls to 2-up. The match ends when one team has established a lead that is greater than the number of remaining holes. Thus, if a team wins by the score of 3&2, it means they were 3-up with two holes to play; it was no longer possible for the other team to beat or tie them.

On Friday, the first day of competition, there are four two-on-two matches of four-ball (each player plays his own ball, and the best score wins the hole for his team) and four two-on-two matches of foursomes (teammates alternate shots). Each match is worth 1 point. If a match is tied after eighteen holes, the match is “halved,” and each team receives half a point. The home captain has the right to choose which session is played in the morning and which is played in the afternoon, and it’s also up to each captain to choose which eight players compete in each session, and which four sit out. This format repeats on Saturday, and on Sunday, all twelve players from each team square off in a singles match. In total, 28 points are at stake—16 from pairs matches, 12 from singles. The team that holds the Cup needs to win half of these points, 14, to retain the trophy, while the team trying to take the Cup back must win 14.5 points.

The Ryder Cup venue rotates every two years between the United States and Europe. It is organized in the United States by the PGA of America, which is distinct from the PGA Tour, and in Europe by the European Tour. The 2021 Ryder Cup took place in late September at Whistling Straits Golf Course on the western shore of Lake Michigan, a few miles north of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

After a blowout win in Paris in 2018, the Cup was in European hands. The Americans had to win it back.

“You’ve probably heard this in press conferences, where losing captains and players will say, ‘Well, the other guys just played better.’ Can you imagine if someone said that in the defense world? The general has to go and explain why he lost the war, and he says, ‘Well, the other guys just fought better.’ Or in the business world, the CEO has to explain why he lost a million dollars and he says, ‘Oh, the other guy just sold more widgets.’ I got tired of hearing it. Yes, there’s variance in results. Yes, there’s unpredictability. But the Ryder Cup fundamentally is an organizational and a management challenge. It’s a collective action problem. How do you channel the talents and abilities of a large group of people into a common goal? The reality is that winning Ryder Cups is making lots and lots of right decisions enough times to increase your chances of winning.”

—Jason Aquino, founder of Scouts Consulting Group, Team USA’s strategic analysts


December 2019, Melbourne, Australia

Fires down under… the great escape… the end of the legend of Patrick Reed

We knew Australia was burning. We could smell it in the air.

As omens go, it was almost too good, and certainly better than we deserved—the unseen fires, closer all the time, heralded by the faint odor of smoke… the vapors of the coming wrath. A better thinker, one more in tune with the apocalyptic thunderclaps arriving by the minute, might have seen the shape of what was hurtling toward us down the doomsday pipeline. Not me. I had just survived the miserable cramped plane ride from Los Angeles, fifteen godforsaken hours, and the only selfish concern in my head was that they’d hold off the flames long enough to stage the Presidents Cup.

In Sydney, the capital, where the Australian Open golf tournament had been played a week earlier, the effect from the bushfires was so bad that just breathing the city air for a day was the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes. On the course, the players coughed through the smoke, eyes burning, and couldn’t see where their balls landed through the haze. Farther south, in Melbourne, there was talk that the more famous Australian Open, the tennis tournament, would have to be canceled in January as the fires raged toward the coast.

In those days of ignorance, we still thought that the Ryder Cup would be played in ten months in Wisconsin, and that Australia would be a preview. We’d learn a little about the team, the captains, and whether their collective psyche had recovered from the drubbing handed to them by the Europeans in Paris at the 2018 Ryder Cup—a loss so bad that it called into question every bit of progress they were supposed to have made since 2014, through the “task force” that emerged in the aftermath of the previous drubbing in Scotland.

You often hear that Ryder Cup season begins at the Presidents Cup, and it’s probably true. First off, everything that comes before—the choice of captain, the one-year-to-go pressers—is interesting but still vague. It’s impossible to tell what kind of leader Steve Stricker or Pádraig Harrington will become based on a few remarks made at a presser in gray Wisconsin a year before anyone hits an actual shot. And if you could tell, it would mean one of them had said something remarkably stupid, which even the really legendary flops manage to avoid.

The Presidents Cup, though, gives us the first chance to see the Americans in action at a team match play event that’s almost identical in format to the Ryder Cup. It’s where they take on the International Team, the long-suffering kid brother that includes the entire rest of the world minus Europe. Many of the American players are the same, the US Ryder Cup captain is usually on site, and whether they admit it or not, many see it as a tune-up for the big show.

Tiger Woods would serve as playing captain for the Americans in Melbourne, but my eyes were on his assistant, Stricker, the man set to take center stage in Wisconsin. We knew that Stricker was “nice”—so nice that he had never won a major, which made him the first American captain in that category—but in terms of his leadership style, and whether he was the right man for the job, we were clueless. All you could say, back then, was that the choice wasn’t exactly inspiring, at least if masculine charisma and career accomplishments are your criteria. Was there anything to the man, so slight, so nervous? We didn’t know.

And there was something else we didn’t know. Five thousand miles to the northwest, in a Chinese provincial capital called Wuhan, a handful of otherwise healthy people were coming down with pneumonia, and nobody knew why. By the time they figured it out, it was already too late—the entire world was about to be shattered, and the effects would trickle down everywhere. Even to golf, and even to the Ryder Cup.

That week in Melbourne, we were living in the last days of the pre-COVID era, when all we had to worry about were jet lag, an inscrutable captain, and the ominous fires just out of sight, forecasting our grim future.

*  *  *

“He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!”

—Duke the trainer, just as Rocky begins to beat the hell out of Apollo Creed

The one near guarantee in Melbourne was that the Americans would win. Prior to 2019, in twelve Presidents Cups, the US won ten and tied another. The Americans hadn’t lost in twenty-one years, and on paper they were miles better than the International Team captained by Ernie Els, who would arrive at Royal Melbourne Golf Club with a motley crew that included seven rookies.

There was no reason to suspect trouble, and history made the Americans oblivious. They had no clue what Els had planned for them: that for the first time, an International Team captain was taking the Presidents Cup very seriously, and thinking not just of victory in Australia, but of the future—of turning the International Team into an institution that could actually compete. Els and his unlikely team were on the verge of making the 2019 Presidents Cup a shocking, unqualified success, and seriously rattling the cages of the complacent Americans.

Unaware of the trap awaiting them, the Americans came in woefully unprepared. On Monday night, on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne’s business district, I watched Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele take the stage at a promotional event just hours after emerging from the charter plane that had taken all twelve of them from Tiger’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Exhaustion painted their faces, and a bleary-eyed Thomas barely had the energy to crack a joke about his fatigue. Their travel experience was more luxurious than mine by a factor of about a thousand, but I recognized my own raw mental state in them. Call it Trans-Pacific Travel Dread—a mixture of confusion, anxiety, and comprehensive weariness that comes from spending a full day in the air and landing in a strange land where winter has become summer and you’ve skipped ahead a full day.

Not an auspicious start. And amid the fatigue, the ugly specter of American dysfunction was already raising its head. This was the week when Patrick Reed managed to finally, and emphatically, kill his viability as a captain’s pick.

*  *  *

Reed and I were old friends, dating back to 2015, when I wrote about his college career, and the bad news is that we have to revisit that history now. He’d been kicked out of Georgia after a year for two alcohol violations, the second of which he tried to hide from his coach, and before that he’d been accused by his teammates of cheating during a qualifying event. Then he went to Augusta State, where he turned the entire team against him almost immediately, and once again he was accused of cheating, this time by shaving strokes in two straight qualifying events. His teammates held a meeting and voted to kick him off the team, but Augusta State coach Josh Gregory reduced it to a two-match suspension. Reed went on to lead them to two national titles, the second in a championship showdown against Georgia. In the final match of his career, against Georgia’s Harris English, Reed’s Augusta State teammates approached English before the match to wish him luck. He had none—Reed won in a match that one onlooker called “the death of karma.”

When the ugly details came out, Reed set to work blundering his way into deeper trouble, which was the start of a PR strategy that he’s doggedly stuck to ever since. He went on the Golf Channel, produced a couple of vague statements from his coaches, and generally took the path of full denial. The end result was that Reed’s teammates who had previously been silent came out of the woodwork to crucify him further, confirming the old details and adding new ones. Deadspin summed it up in a headline: “Patrick Reed Takes a Swing at Defending Himself, Slices into the Woods.”

And life moved on. Just as in 2014, Reed was a Ryder Cup hero in 2016, going 3-1-1 and winning an electric match against Rory McIlroy in Sunday singles. McIlroy had never lost a Ryder Cup singles match before, and he had plenty of fireworks for Reed on the front nine, but the American had all the answers. After a legendary exchange of long birdie putts on the eighth hole that sent the Minnesota crowd into hysterics, Reed spent the back nine handing McIlroy his first loss.

That win was the height of his match play reputation—he was Captain America, and whatever his history, nobody could deny his greatness.

Things got better from there, and then a whole lot worse. He achieved golf immortality in 2018 by winning the Masters, but every time his Ryder Cup and Masters performances threatened to swing the narrative in his favor, he’d backslide. The stories never stopped: he’d carp to a rules official, saying, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth,” after an unfavorable ruling, or huff off after a bad round and snub the media, or yell at a cameraman for jingling change in his pockets, or publicly complain to the PGA Tour because the seats they got him at Fenway Park weren’t good enough. As Joel Beall at Golf Digest reported, someone on his team even seemed to be using a burner Twitter account to attack his fellow pros. By the end of 2018, the general feeling of the golf world reflected an old quote by Kisner about Reed: “I don’t know that they’d piss on him if he was on fire.”

Then came Paris and the 2018 Ryder Cup, where Reed was a walking disaster, hacking his way to two losses on the first two days and putting the first dent in his Captain America image. After the team loss, he made the bizarre choice to unleash on Jim Furyk in a phone call to his anointed media confessor, the New York Times’ Karen Crouse. He said he felt “blindsided” when Furyk didn’t pair him with Spieth, his old reliable partner. “The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” he said, and went on to decry the “buddy system” that left him out in the cold. (On this, sources have told me he was right—Spieth called Furyk before the Ryder Cup and asked not to be paired with Reed.) He concluded with great irony by blaming the American failure on the fact that they couldn’t leave their egos at the door.

It was a shocking attempt at mutiny. Reed seemed to believe that going to the media would earn him sympathy from teammates or fans. “I was looking at him [Furyk] like I was about to light the room up like Phil in ’14,” he said, a reference to Mickelson’s rebellion against Tom Watson that led to the task force and radically changed the way the Americans approach the Ryder Cup. The difference is that Mickelson had the stature to make a bold move, and he picked the perfect moment to obliterate Watson in public… and even then, he did so with reluctance. Reed, in contrast, lacked any social capital, and the fact that he expected a positive outcome from attacking a respected figure like Furyk showed a level of delusion that was almost unbelievable.

Which is a lot of backstory to get to this: it was a shock when Tiger Woods selected Reed as a captain’s pick for Melbourne. Reed had apparently “cleared the air” with Tiger and his American teammates, but to take someone like Reed for a team event is to take a big risk—to balance his incredible skill at match play with the decent chance that he could become a fully malignant clubhouse cancer.

If nothing else, it was clear that Reed had one more chance to ingratiate himself with his team and to behave like someone who could be trusted. Tiger’s confidence gave him a new lease on life as a captain’s pick, and all he had to do was make sure he didn’t do something stupid. He needed only a temporary pause in the ongoing debacle that is the Patrick Reed Show, just long enough to get the hell out of Australia.

And then came the Incident.

*  *  *

It happened the week before, while Reed and everyone else on the US team except Dustin Johnson were playing in the invite-only Hero World Classic hosted by Tiger in the Bahamas. Reed found himself in a waste area that looked indistinguishable from a sand trap. The rules, though, are different: in the waste area, a player is allowed to ground his club. Which is exactly what Reed did, but then he proceeded to drag the club backward, sweeping away the sand in front of his ball. Then he resettled the club and did it again.

This is blatantly illegal, and nothing about it was ambiguous. Reed had improved his lie by clearing the path to his ball, and when the first effort wasn’t satisfactory, he did it again. The TV cameras caught him red-handed, and’s Dylan Dethier, on the scene, heard Rickie Fowler say, “I don’t even know what you have to review.” On the telecast, Paul Azinger was similarly unimpressed. “If that’s not improving your lie, I don’t know what is,” he said. “He knows better.”

Reed was assessed a two-stroke penalty when the round was over, but the bigger problem was the hit to his reputation. Before long, someone dug up a clip of him doing the same exact thing at a 2015 tournament, and for a guy whose credibility was already in the mud, who had been accused of cheating in the past, it was like throwing gas on the flames. He was skewered.

At the Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee came out firing on Monday. “Deep down in the marrow of this team, they will be affected by this controversy,” he said. “Their DNA as a team has been altered. There’s just no two ways about it. To defend what Patrick Reed did is to defend cheating.”

Chamblee went so far as to say that when Tiger added Reed to the team, he “made a deal with the devil.” By forcing the Americans to defend him, Reed put them in an impossible situation and forced them to greet an obvious violation—one that would have horrified most of them to commit, in a sport where players frequently call penalties on themselves even when the cameras aren’t running—with silence, putting their own integrity on the line.

On that front, the only player on the International Team who spoke out unapologetically was Cameron Smith, the twenty-six-year-old Aussie. While everyone else was giving the standard “We’ve moved on” quotes, Smith unloaded both barrels. “To give a bit of a bullshit response like the camera angle,” he said, “that’s pretty up there… I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats. I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him, but everyone [on the US team] next week.”

When Reed went out for his practice round in Australia, he was greeted on the first tee by a fan taking on the role of volunteer PA announcer: “On the first tee, from the United States… the excavator!”

Coupled with the exhausting travel, it would further burden a team that was already in trouble. This was the definition of the dreaded distraction, but it put the most pressure on Reed. Making a deal with the devil is useful only if the devil can give you something important in exchange, and everyone was watching… especially Steve Stricker.

*  *  *

Royal Melbourne is the kind of golf club that gets the diehards salivating, and with good reason: in the baked summer climate of southern Australia, it stands out as a beautiful, temperamental piece of architecture, a true product of its geography. Clusters of low, gnarled tea trees with peeling bark crowd the fairways, sharing space with the flowering gums and the purple blooms of the jacaranda. Monterey cypress trees like those found on Pebble Beach are one of the few nonnative species on the course, but they work exceptionally well in the arid climate, their high, jagged crowns framing most holes—and the course itself—in a stark and imposing tableau. The Bermuda grass fairways remain a resplendent green with the aid of sulfate fertilizer and perhaps a bit of transnatural art, but when it gives way to the dry heathland, the wallaby grass, stipa, and sword sedge take over.

A northerly wind blew on Monday, picking up heat from the Outback, driving temperatures into triple digits and bringing the dreaded musca vetustissima, the “bush fly” that is attracted to human bodily fluids and wreaks havoc on anyone deranged enough to step outside. By Tuesday, the wind had changed, coming from the south and leading to far cooler temperatures and fewer flies. It stayed that way for the remainder of the week, a small blessing for Americans journeying from winter conditions.

The matches for the first four-ball session were announced on Wednesday night, and the most interesting pick of the session came almost immediately, when Tiger selected himself and Justin Thomas to face Marc Leishman and Joaquín Niemann. It’s no surprise that Tiger chose Thomas as his partner. With his friend Jordan Spieth out of the action after a tough year, Thomas was the man everyone wanted on his team. The twenty-six-year-old from Louisville had already emerged as one of the great team match play golfers on the American side—in one Presidents Cup and one Ryder Cup, he’d amassed a 7-2-1 record—and depending on how things went in Melbourne, he’d have a chance to stake his claim as the “real” Captain America. He was popular among his teammates and well liked generally, which made him an irresistible choice for Tiger.

He and Tiger won that opening match, 4&3, but it would be the only match the Americans won on Thursday. Elsewhere, it was a shocking call to arms for the Internationals, who took a 4-1 lead on the strength of Els’s master plan. Mixing veterans with rookies and relying on statistics to find the best pairings within that framework, Els dialed the right numbers up and down the board.

I followed Patrick Reed that morning to see how the Australian fans would treat him in his match with Webb Simpson against C. T. Pan and Hideki Matsuyama. Under gray skies and a mist so light it barely deserved the name, Reed emerged from the crowd and strode onto the first tee. When the music died, the time had come to unleash hell on the American.

“Are you going to make your caddie carry fourteen clubs and a shovel?” shouted one.

“Improve your lie off the tee!” screamed another.

The insults got less clever from there, with a few cries of “Sand wedge!” and “Tell me where the bunkers are!” and the extremely blunt, unfriendly “Cheater!”

Reed, impassive in the face of the barrage, stepped up to hit his first drive, and because life has a sense of humor, it rolled into the greenside bunker. When it disappeared over the ledge on the big screen, the crowd roared its appreciation, and one of the Aussies sent him off with a warning: “Patrick, there’s cameras out there too!”

So it began. He marched on in that hostile land, finding the sand on each of the first three holes. Reed and Simpson could have staved off the broader American disaster with even a half point, but instead they lost 1-up, and it gave the Internationals a 4-1 lead—not just the first lead they’d had after the first session since 2005, but the best lead they’d ever had at that point.

*  *  *

Friday brought with it the first alternate shot session, and late in the afternoon, things were proceeding so badly for the Americans that an 8-2 score felt downright realistic. With a margin like that, and only 15.5 points needed to secure the Cup, it’s no exaggeration to say that the event would have been effectively over before the weekend.

Instead, still tired and confused, the Americans managed to shake off their fatigue to produce some very late magic. Call it a rearguard action, highlighted by Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele making a critical birdie on hole eighteen to beat Joaquín Niemann and Adam Hadwin. In the most iconic moment of the day, Justin Thomas rose to the occasion yet again for the Americans, burying a fifteen footer for the win on the eighteenth hole. When the ball went down, he turned to his partner Tiger, stomped his feet dramatically on the green, and shouted, “I love me some me!” (Long story, but Thomas borrowed the line from an old Terrell Owens video that had been making the rounds among the team.)

Miraculously, the Americans were trailing by just 3 points overall.

On Saturday, after Reed and Simpson suffered another loss, an incredible bit of news began to circulate in the media center: Kessler Karain, Reed’s caddie, had apparently fought a fan. Barstool Sports came out with the first statement from Karain, who wrote, “I had had enough… riding on the cart, guy was about 3 feet from Patrick and said, ‘You fucking suck.’ I got off the cart and shoved him, said a couple things, probably a few expletives. Security came and I got back in the cart and left… unless his bones break like Mr. Glass, the most harm done was a little spilled beer, which I’m more than happy to reimburse him for.”

It figured that the first time anyone on Reed’s team had been honest and open with the media, it would be a caddie admitting he’d shoved a fan. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan set up a meeting with Karain and quickly did the only thing he could do, which was to ban him from Sunday singles.

At that point, the American embarrassment felt well and truly complete. All that remained was to complete the disaster on the course, slink back to America, and ponder what it all meant for the next year.

Justin Thomas simply refused. He kept them alive again on Saturday, dragging the Internationals back to earth over and over in a lonely and stubborn act until reinforcements could arrive. The score by day’s end was just 10-8 to the Internationals. The American team was finally awake, and their superior talent was about to become decisive.

*  *  *

Sunday singles is where narratives go to die. For three days, Els had taken a lesser team and dominated. Despite the fact that he was facing an opponent with players from the same country who all spoke the same language, he’d somehow built a more cohesive unit. In terms of tactics, he’d run circles around Tiger Woods, and it was only due to bad luck that his team wasn’t leading by an insurmountable margin.

Once the players hit the course on Sunday, though, the captain’s influence dwindles to almost nothing. It was time for the players to take over, and the Americans shone brighter from the start.

The story that sticks with me most from that final session came at the fifth hole, with Xander Schauffele 1-up on Adam Scott. This was an incredibly important match for Scott—not only was Presidents Cup pride at stake, but he was playing in front of his home crowd, and his team was relying on him to deliver a point. Els, his captain, was standing on the tee at the par-3 fifth, and though Scott wanted to hit a 9-iron, Els advised him to use an 8-iron instead to cut through the wind. Scott eventually relented, and his 8-iron went directly at the flag… and over the green. His lie was so bad that he had to take a drop, and by the time it was over, he had handed Schauffele the hole and a 2-up lead.


  • “Shane Ryan has done a masterful job of capturing the build-up to the 2021 Ryder Cup. This fast-paced narrative moves fluidly from past to present while documenting the actions of the Ryder Cup greats that made it into the marquee event it is today. The Cup They Couldn’t Lose reveals lots of inside-the-ropes information from the folks who were there. Players opened up to Ryan. He was able to get former players and captains to share their feelings, emotions, and strategies about this incredible event. I’m picky about Ryder Cup books, but I couldn’t put this one down.”—Paul Azinger, victorious 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, 1993 PGA Champion, NBC lead golf analyst, and author of Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy
  • “Shane Ryan tells great stories that are incredibly well-researched, and his understanding of golf and Ryder Cup history stands out. As a Ryder Cup fan, I felt inspired, educated, and energized by this book—I’m betting you will, too.”—Paul McGinley, victorious 2014 European Ryder Cup Captain, member of three Ryder Cup-winning European Teams, Sky Sports commentator, and author of Landscape of Success
  • "Insightful… terrific reporting.”—Wall Street Journal
  • “No offense to the many other accounts of the Ryder Cup through the years, but The Cup They Couldn’t Lose… provides the definitive explanation for the European renaissance in the Ryder Cup and how America got its groove back….[Shane Ryan] puts more than a finger on it; he diagnoses what he terms ‘the 40-year disease’ in astounding detail, artfully piecing together the history of this biennial match-play event…The section on England’s Tony Jacklin, who established a template that has been passed down from one European captain to the next, alone is worth the price of the book.”—Golfweek
  • “It’s golf nerd nirvana, but more than that, it’s a brilliant sociological study of psychology and team-building.”—Yahoo! Sports
  • "Absolutely phenomenal...high recommendation."—"Fore Play" by Barstool Sports
  • “In this definitive analysis of Ryder Cup history—which follows the Cup from the early decades of American dominance through the European resurgence, led by British star Tony Jacklin and the irrepressible Spaniard Seve Ballesteros—Ryan builds to the 2021 match, seen by all as a do-or-die moment for the Americans…. Showing just how Stricker led his team to victory in his home state of Wisconsin, Ryan combines the kind of wonky ‘inside golf’ detail that fans relish with a revealing look at the personalities involved, past and present.”—Booklist
  • “[An] important, plus entertaining and informative book.”—The Florida Times-Union
  • “If you have any interest at all in the Ryder Cup in terms of where it’s going and it’s roam next, or where it’s been and why it’s become one of the most important events in sports, this is the book for you.”—"5 Clubs" podcast
  • One of Links’ Top 10 Golf Books of 2022
    “After deftly describing prior matches and explaining why the U.S. needed this win so badly, Ryan gives a pulsating, un-put-down-able account of how they rolled to the largest winning margin in the event’s history, writing what many consider the best Ryder Cup book ever written.”—LINKS Magazine

On Sale
Dec 31, 2050
Page Count
336 pages
Hachette Books

Shane Ryan

About the Author

Shane Ryan is the author of the New York Times bestseller Slaying the Tiger. Since Slaying was published in 2015, Ryan has written for Golf Digest and Paste Magazine. He began his journalism career as a writer for Grantland, and he writes occasional essays for the New York Times. His work has also been published in ESPN the MagazineDeadspinEsquireSalonSlate, and Sports Illustrated. He lives in Durham, NC.

Learn more about this author