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9 best Ryder Cup singles matches

Today, Oct. 2, marks the one-year anniversary of one of the all-time, greatest Ryder Cup singles duels we've ever seen.

It was at Hazeltine 365 days ago today where Patrick Reed took down Rory McIlroy, 1 up, in scintillating back and forth battle. The U.S. would go on to win the Ryder Cup -- its first "W" since 2008 at Valhalla -- 17-11.  

RELATED: Complete Ryder Cup coverage | Current U.S. points standings

Here's a look at nine of the greatest singles matches -- in no particular order -- in Ryder Cup history:

9. Phil Mickelson halved Sergio Garcia in 2016 at Hazeltine

About the match: We understand if a "half point" doesn't exactly jump off the page in terms of excitement, but this match had to be seen to be believed. Featuring veterans of many Ryder Cups, Mickelson and Garcia put on an absolute clinic, racking up an unbelievable 19 birdies between them, finishing a combined 18-under par and -- had they been partners in a best-ball match -- would have had a score of 58.

Mickelson snagged 10 birdies that day, while Garcia had nine. 

And the best shots of the match was saved for last. Mickelson poured in a 15-foot birdie on the 18th hole and, moments later, Garcia secured a half point by knocking down a 12-foot birdie of his own. 

8. Nick Faldo def. Curtis Strange, 1 up in 1995 at Oak Hill

About the match: Strange was a controversial wildcard pick by then Captain Lanny Wadkins for the U.S. With the matches coming down to the wire, Strange was in the driver's seat to prove the naysayers wrong with a 1-up lead on the 16th tee.

But that's when things unraveled for the two-time U.S. Open champion.

Strange bogeyed each of the last three holes and Faldo would take a 1-up victory. Europe won the Ryder Cup 14.5-13.5 and Strange finished the week with a 0-3-0 record. 

"I know Curtis is probably the most disappointed person here," Wadkins said then. "He would have liked to have played better, but it didn't work out that way. That's golf."

7. Fuzzy Zoeller halved Seve Ballesteros in 1983 Ryder Cup at PGA National

About the match: In a bunker on the par-5 18th and 245 yards from the hole, the great Ballesteros pulls out a 3-wood in a desperate attempt to make something happen. 

In what Jack Nicklaus would call, "The greatest shot I ever saw," Ballesteros knocked the ball onto the green and made a par to halve the back and forth match with Zoeller in a Ryder Cup the U.S. would win by a point.

The closest Ryder Cup since 1969 to that point, Ballesteros had a 3-up lead on Zoeller at the turn. A hard-charging Zoeller came all the way back from the deficit and Ballesteros pulled off one of the countless miraculous shots of his career to steal a half point.  

6. Paul Azinger halved Nick Faldo in the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry

About the match: This remains the last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup on foreign soil. But, the bad blood between the two teams from two years prior at Kiawah Island wasn't gone.

Especially when it came to rivals Azinger and Faldo on the final day.

Faldo took a 1-up lead in the match with a hole-in-one on the 14th hole. Talk about timely. Zinger knotted the match back up with a birdie on the very next hole. Faldo then went 1-up through 17 holes.

Faldo would par the 18th hole, leaving Azinger a 6-footer for birdie and a halve. Interestingly, the Cup had already been decided, but Faldo still declined to concede the putt.

So what did Azinger do? Naturally he holed it.

Years later, the pair would work together in the television booth and become friendly... but Azinger still loves any chance to one up Faldo. And that's exactly what he did in 2008 at Valhalla in captaining the U.S. team to victory over the European team captained by Faldo.

5. Hale Irwin halved Bernhard Langer in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island

About the match: After losing the Ryder Cup in 1985, 1987 and watching Europe retain in 1989, the Americans were hungry to get it back on home soil.

The whole feeling around those '91 matches was contentious. It certainly didn't have that friendly feel we've become accustomed to today.

Incredibly, those matches came down to one putt -- the last putt, on the last green, in the final singles match. 

Langer, who had already won his first Masters to that point, had a 6-footer for par remaining. If he made it, Europe would win the Cup. If he missed, they'd lose. 

Irwin had already bogeyed the hole after Langer conceded a short putt. Irwin needed just a halve for the U.S. to reach the needed winning total.

Langer hit a good putt, but it just missed on the right edge and the U.S. was victorious.

It was a cruel way for the matches to end.

4. Christy O'Connor Jr. def Fred Couples 1-up in the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry 

About the match: With the match all square headed to the 18th tee, Europe needed O'Connor to pull out a full point over Couples in order to retain the Cup.

Both players found the middle of the fairway with their respective tee shots. 

And then O'Connor hit the most memorable shot of the matches, sticking a 2-iron to within four feet of the hole for a birdie.

Couples missed the green with his second shot and couldn't chip in. O'Connor won the match 1-up and Europe retained.

3. Patrick Reed def. Rory McIlroy, 1 up in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine

About the match: For much of the last 20 years to this point in time, the U.S. had been a punching bag for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup.

At Hazeltine, that was all about to change.

Patrick Reed proved to be one of the few bright spots for the U.S. in his 2014 Ryder Cup debut. Captain Davis Love III was hopeful that Reed could carry the momentum from 2014 to 2016... and he sure did.

The outgoing Reed was a stuf all week alongside partner Jordan Spieth in the team events and had to be licking his chops when he drew Europe's top player -- Rory McIlroy -- in the opening singles match on the final day. 

The back and forth, the antics and the level of play all made this match legendary -- an instant Ryder Cup classic.

Reed won the match 1 up and the U.S. finally earned its first win since 2008, 17-11.

2. Justin Leonard halved Jose Maria Olazabal in the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club

 

About the match: The U.S. entered Sunday's singles trailing by a previously insurmountable four-point margin at 10-6.

Nobody believed the Americans could come back... except for Captain Ben Crenshaw and his team.

In one of the craziest days in Ryder Cup history, the U.S. stormed back for an improbably win. And it wouldn't have come to be if it weren't for Leonard pulling out a half-point in his match against Olazabal.

Olazabal was 4-up in the match with just seven holes to play. When he lost the next three consecutive holes, Leonard was just 1 down. Leonard squared the match with a 40-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, but that wouldn't even be his biggest -- or longest -- putt of the day.

At No. 17, from just over 40 feet, Leonard again made an insane birdie and the crowds went bonkers. Once the chaos calmed, Olazabal missed his birdie try from 25 feet and that was the Ryder Cup. Leonard went 1 up with one to play. 

Leonard would lose the final hole for the match to end in a halve, but the half-point propelled the U.S. to the unlikely, 14.5-13.5 victory.

1. Jack Nicklaus halved Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale

About the match: At the time, Jacklin was Britain's favorite son and here he was locked in a battle with the young, great Jack Nicklaus.

On the 18th green, moments after Nicklaus brushed in a par putt, Jacklin faced a 3-footer for par. If he made it, the matches would end in a 16-16 draw and the U.S. would retain the Cup. 

If he missed it, the U.S. would win the Ryder Cup outright. No matter what happened, the Cup was going back to the U.S.

Realizing that, Nicklaus picked up Jacklin's ball marker and conceded the putt, much to the dismay of U.S. captain Sam Snead and several teammates. They didn't go to England for a draw -- they went to win.

Nicklaus didn't see it that way. What he saw was Jacklin -- a hero in those parts -- in an unenviable position. 

"I don't think you would have missed it, but I wasn't going to give you the chance, either," Nicklaus told Jacklin.

Ever since, Nicklaus's act of sportsmanship has been known as "The Concession" and he and Jacklin have been close friends for half a century because of it.