Billy Casper, 1979
In 1979, Billy Casper (above, second from right) led the U.S. to a one-sided 17-11 win at The Greenbrier. Casper, who grew up in the mellow San Diego of the ’50s, ran a relaxed team accustomed to winning. He didn’t have a murderers’ row — no Nickalus, no Watson — and he didn’t need it. Team Europe, getting used to the new dynamic, was a feuding mess, and all Casper really had to do was make out lineup cards and serve steak.
Lee Trevino, 1985
In 1985, Lee Trevino (second from left), as tough a competitor as golf has ever known, led the U.S. team to a shocking defeat, getting barbecued in England, 16.5-11.5. The so-called Merry Mex was affable and outgoing in public but a loner in his private life — the team pep talk was not part of his wide repertoire.
Raymond Floyd, 1989
In 1989, Raymond Floyd (far left) took the U.S. team to England, where the matches ended in a 14-14 tie. Floyd is a hugely underrated captain. He was intense, inspiring, passionate, organized and compulsive, more so than anybody before him and like almost everybody after him. Whether that model works or not is open to debate, but he was the first modern Ryder Cup captain.