Three Americans left 1 1/2 points--and with them the Ryder Cup--stranded on the 18th green of the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Sunday.
"The 18th was the difference," said Jack Nicklaus, who became the first captain of an American Ryder Cup team ever to lose on native soil.
"I don't think we won the hole all day. Our guys just weren't quite as tough as their guys," Nicklaus said after the Europeans had blunted an American rally to score a 15-13 victory in a successful defense of the title they won two years ago in Europe.
"I'm the proudest man in Europe," said Tony Jacklin, who became the first European captain to lead teams to consecutive titles.
The Americans faced a five-point deficit heading into the final 12 singles matches Sunday. With each match worth one point, the Americans needed nine to win. They came close, winning 7 1/2. The other 1 1/2 they needed were lost on the 18th.
Dan Pohl, Masters champion Larry Mize and Ben Crenshaw each lost the 18th hole, and each lost one-half point. It was the difference in the series.
Pohl, in the second match of the day, was tied with Howard Clark of England going to the 18th. But the American was short in two, dumped his third shot into a bunker and made double bogey. He lost the hole and the half-point he would have gained for a tie, in dropping the match 1-up.
Mize had a 1-up lead on Sam Torrance of Scotland going to the 18th. But he drove into trouble, had to take a penalty drop and eventually made bogey. Torrance parred the hole with a four to salvage a half-point from a match the Europeans appeared to have lost.
Crenshaw let a great comeback escape him. He broke his putter, after three-putting the sixth hole and slamming the offending stick into the ground.
Thereafter, he putted with a one-iron and was three down at the turn. But he pulled it back together, won three holes in a row on the back against Eamonn Darcy of Ireland, and was even going to the 18th.
Crenshaw, however, followed the pattern established by Pohl and Mize. He drove into the water, put his third shot in a bunker and made bogey. Darcy won the hole, and the match, with a par.
That set it up for Seve Ballesteros of Spain to clinch the team victory with a 2 and 1 decision over Curtis Strange, with two matches still on the course.
"The American players don't need any sympathy," Jacklin said. "I don't mean that in a negative or derogatory way. They played their hearts out."
The Americans, who still lead the competition 21-5-1, let 2 1/2 points escape from them in the first six matches--1 1/2 from those critical situations on the 18th--and the Europeans needed only a win and a tie in six remaining matches to clinch it.
Bernhard Langer of West Germany got the half when PGA champion Larry Nelson conceded a two-foot putt on the 18th, and then Ballesteros won it.
Steve Pate, a former UCLA All-American, emerged from a tense afternoon with a five-under-par 67 and won the $400,000 Southwest golf tournament at Abilene, Tex., by one stroke over four others.
Pate, 26, secured his first PGA Tour victory and the $72,000 prize with a five-foot par putt on the final hole.
Pate's 15-under-par 273 gave him the edge over third-round leader David Edwards, Bob Eastwood, Dan Halldorson and Mark O'Meara in a wind-swept finale that could have gone to any one of eight contenders.
Pate, who joined the tour in late 1984, recorded six birdies and one bogey over the 7,189-yard Fairway Oaks course as he took the biggest paycheck of his career and hiked his career earnings to $505,567.
Miller Barber scored a hole in one with a 2-iron on the 209-yard fourth hole and sank a 13-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole to take the lead for good on his way to winning the $200,000 Newport Cup seniors tournament at Newport, R.I.
Barber, 58, fired a seven-under-par 65 to claim a three-stroke victory over Australian Bruce Crampton. Barber finished the 54-hole tournament with a score of 202, 14 under par, on the 6,566-yard Newport Country Club course. He earned $30,000 for the victory, his 21st on the PGA Seniors Tour.
Crampton, who had a final-round 67, finished at 205, two strokes ahead of New Zealand's Bob Charles, whose final-round 64 was the best score of the tournament. Gary Player of South Africa, who shot 65 Sunday, finished fourth at 208.
Jan Stephenson shot a 31 on the front nine en route to a seven-under-par 65 and won the $300,000 San Jose tournament for her second LPGA victory in two weeks.
Stephenson sank birdies on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 to break away from a tightly bunched field and finish with a tournament-record total of 11-under-par 205 and a five-stroke victory over Amy Alcott.
The first prize of $45,000 pushed her season earnings to better than $230,000, moving her to No. 4 on the money list.
Martha Nause, 33, of Sheboygan, Wis., the first player to tee off in the morning, won a $51,000 BMW 735 for scoring a hole in one on the par-3, 177-yard 13th hole at Alamaden Golf and Country Club. She used a 3-iron for her shot, the fourth ace of her career and the second on the tour.