Europe will go into the final day of the 44th Ryder Cup needing just four points from the singles to reclaim the Ryder Cup trophy they lost so comprehensively in Wisconsin two years ago after honours were shared after Saturday’s fourball and foursomes matches.
Leading 6.5-1.5 after day one, when America failed to register a single win, Luke Donald’s team turned the knife early on Saturday morning when winning the fourball session 3-1, to stretch the overall lead to seven and the overall score at a barely believable 9.5-2.5.
The early European onslaught was led by Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg, who stormed to a 9&7 victory over Scottie Scheffler and Brook Koepka that set a new Ryder Cup record for a margin of defeat. Scheffler was so scarred by the defeat that he was later seen in tears, while Koepka departed the scene rapidly, with neither player called upon to play in the afternoon four balls.
Elsewhere more blue was piled onto the scoreboard when top group Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood continued their fine Ryder Cup week by beating Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 2&1 in a match where they always seemed in control, despite being taken to the 17th hole.
The only defeat for Europe – and the first full point for Team USA – came in match three when Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka were comfortably beaten 4&2 by Open champion Brian Harmon and his partner Max Homa.
But Europe ended the morning’s action on a high when Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton combined to down Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay. Three up after eight holes, the US pairing fought back to draw level after winning three holes on the
bounce from the 12th, but birdie putts from Hatton at 16, and Rahm’s near hole-in-one at the 17th, sealed the deal for a third European point that left America teetering on the brink of humiliation.
But any thoughts of early European celebrations on Sunday were soon tempered when the US team came out firing in the afternoon fourballs, winning three and losing just one to end the day 10.5-5.5 down – the same five-point deficit that they had been 24 hours earlier.
Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa took down Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg for first point in the opening match, after which Homa and Harman capped off a 2-0 day as a partnership when beating Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard.
Justin Rose and Bob Macintyre ensured the visitors didn’t have things all their own way when winning the third match out against Jus in Thomas and Jordan Spieth 3&2, with MacIntyre finally managing to get his putter going to earn his first Ryder Cup point.
But Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark capped off the US fightback when Cantlay drained a 40-foot birdie on the 18th hole to win a tense match against Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick. The scene on the final green turned a bit ugly when Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, was seen wildly celebrating his player’s putt dropping while the Europeans still had birdie putts to come. It is understood that McIlroy was later seen being bundled into a car by one of his teammates when he confronted LaCava about his behaviour in the car park several hours later.
Luke Donald, who watched the events unfold from the side of the green, said: “I’ve talked to Rory. He politely asked Joe to move aside. He was in his line of vision. He stood there and didn’t move for a while and continued to wave the hat, so I think Rory was upset about that.”
He then added that the incident would only serve to add ‘fuel to fire’ of his team’s ambition to go out and win the cup tomorrow.
No side has come from five back to win in the event’s 96-year history, although a 10-6 deficit has twice been overhauled, by the US at Brookline in 1999 and by Europe at Medinah in 2012. Europe need to 14½ points to regain the trophy, while the US, as defending champions, require 14 to retain it.
SUNDAY SINGLES – ORDER OF PLAY (UK TIME)
Match 1 – 10.35am: Jon Rahm vs Scottie Scheffler
Match 2 – 10.47am: Viktor Hovland vs Collin Morikawa
Match 3 – 10.59am: Justin Rose vs Patrick Cantlay
Match 4 – 11.11pm: Rory McIlroy vs Sam Burns
Match 5 – 11.23pm: Matt Fitzpatrick vs Max Homa
Match 6 – 11.35pm: Tyrrell Hatton vs Brian Harman
Match 7 – 11.47pm: Ludvig Aberg vs Brooks Koepka
Match 8 – 11.59pm: Sepp Straka vs Justin Thomas
Match 9 – 12.11pm: Nicolai Hojgaard vs Xander Schauffele
Match 10 – 12.23pm: Shane Lowry vs Jordan Spieth
Match 11 – 1.35pm: Tommy Fleetwood vs Rickie Fowler
Match 12 – 1.47pm: Robert MacIntyre vs Wyndham Clark