Europe's brave bid to win the Ryder Cup for the third time in succession ended in disappointment at The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts, as the United States regained the trophy by the minimum margin of 14 ½ - 13 ½.
The USA recovered from 6-10 down after two days of sparkling golf by the European side, led superbly by captain Mark James, to take the singles by 8 ½ - 3 ½ to capture the trophy for the first time since 1993.
Europe had gone into the final day requiring four points from the dozen singles to retain the trophy they won so spectacularly at Valderrama two years ago. However the Americans won the top six matches to open up a two point advantage over Europe, who had packed the lower order with players of the calibre of European No.1 Colin Montgomerie and Open champion, Paul Lawrie.
Montgomerie and Lawrie both came through with a point apiece, the former beating Payne Stewart on the final green and Lawrie with an outstanding 4 and 3 success over Jeff Maggert.
Rookie Padraig Harrington produced a storming finish to beat 1998 Masters and Open champion Mark O'Meara by one hole after a titanic struggle in which neither player was ever more than one hole ahead.
José Maria Olazábal, the most experienced Ryder Cup player on the European side, also played his heart out against an inspired Justin Leonard, whose putting changed the course of the event.
The Spaniard was four up with seven to play, but the 1997 Open champion responded with three massive putts at the 14th, 15th and 17th to make certain of the half point which secured the trophy for American captain Ben Crenshaw and his men.
Olazábal responded in the style of a true champion by birdieing the final hole to claim a half point, but by then it was too late to redress the balance following the earlier disappointments suffered by Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Jarmo Sandelin, Jean Van de Velde, Andrew Coltart and Jesper Parnevik.
Rookies Miguel Angel Jiménez and Sergio Garcia, who along with Montgomerie and Parnevik had turned in electrifying performances in the first two days, also experienced that sinking feeling as they lost to Steve Pate and Jim Furyk respectively.
At the end of another dramatically close Ryder Cup, four European players finished the three days of intense competition as joint top scorers with three and a half points each - Montgomerie, Lawrie, Parnevik and Garcia.