DUBLIN, OHIO, SEPT. 27 -- Wrapped in the flags of their native lands, the European Ryder Cup team formed a can-can line on the 18th green of the Muirfield Village Golf Club today and danced to the music of an Ohio high school band. They kicked and swayed to celebrate the greatest hour, by far, in the history of European golf. And they sang and even cried as they celebrated the end of more than a half-century of United States golf dominance.

Sitting on a hillside watching the party was the U.S. team, captained by Jack Nicklaus; they looked at each other in stunned disbelief. Some of their eyes were wet, too. The impossible, the unthinkable, had befallen them. No conceivable embarrassment was spared the U.S. team as Europe won the Ryder Cup on U.S. soil for the first time in history, 15-13.

Over 60 years, the U.S. still holds a 21-5-1 Ryder advantage. Yet, Europe has now won the biennial event twice in a row -- another historic first. Fittingly, the best of the Europeans, Seve Ballesteros, sank the clinching putt, closing out the '87 PGA Tour money-list leader Curtis Strange on the 17th green.

"We're not frightened anymore. That's the key," said Europe's captain, Tony Jacklin. "This was the ultimate. . . . Magnificent. Wonderful, wonderful. . . . I'm the proudest man in Europe. . . . It's a dream is what it is . . . after having our brains beat out so often.

"I never thought I'd live to see golf played at the level it was played on Friday and Saturday. Today? I've never been so worried."

The U.S. team, led by match-play wins from Mark Calcavecchia, Payne Stewart, Scott Simpson, Tom Kite, Andy Bean and Lanny Wadkins, made a powerful late rush and almost pulled out one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of world-class team golf. The United States began the day facing a 10 1/2 to 5 1/2 deficit, yet, late in the day, pulled to 12-11.

"They almost pulled it out," said Nicklaus. "But we did not win the 18th hole in any match and we lost the 18th in three crucial matches. That was the difference right there. . . . We just weren't as tough in the stretch as the European guys."

The week's goat was Ben Crenshaw, the only player to lose three matches and win nothing. His worst came last. In a fit of temper, he snapped his putter and had to putt on the last 12 holes with several clubs, from his 1-iron to a sand wedge. He still came to the 17th tee 1-up, then bogeyed the final two holes with wild drives and lost his match to obscure Irishman Eamonn Darcy, whose previous Ryder Cup record was 0-8-2. Darcy had been trusted to play in only one previous match.

"Ben feels as bad as anyone," said Nicklaus. "It may have cost him his match. And it may not. He was 3-down when it happened, then came back making {two} birdies with the 1-iron. I told him, 'Crenshaw, you don't need a putter. The way you putt, you'd be better than most guys with anything in your bag.' "

Larry Nelson was mouse-trapped into conceding the most important putt of the day to Bernhard Langer of West Germany. With Europe needing just a half-point to gain a tie and retain the Cup, Langer asked Nelson, "You wanna make it {the match} a tie?" as both faced short but ticklish par putts on the 18th. Amazingly, and incorrectly, Nelson agreed. America's last hope for victory was for Nelson to make his three-footer and Langer to miss his 30-incher.

"Larry thought that was the right thing to do and I accept that," said Nicklaus. "It was a proper gesture on Larry's part."

The most stunned U.S. players were Crenshaw, Dan Pohl and Larry Mize, all of whom fell to pieces on the 18th, handing their foes a half-point each. Pohl went rough to trap to trap and took double bogey to lose, 1-up, to Howard Clark. Mize and Crenshaw drove into the same fairway hazard, took penalty strokes and made bogeys. Thus, Sam Torrance gained a tie and Darcy an amazing win.

Had all three U.S. players simply parred the last hole, the United States would have won back the Cup, 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.