KOHLER, Wisconsin — The United States tightened their grip on the Ryder Cup with another day of domination at wind-whipped Whistling Straits on Saturday, taking a commanding 11-5 lead over holders Europe, who need to produce an historic comeback if they are to defend their title.
Comfortably in front 6-2 at the start of the day, the US turned up the pressure in the morning foursomes taking three-of-four points before fending off a fight back from the Europeans in the afternoon fourballs splitting the matches 2-2.
Only nine times in 42 Ryder Cups has a team come from behind on the final day to lift the trophy.
No team has ever rallied from six points down going into Sunday’s singles although twice (the US in 1999 and Europe in 2012) teams have come from four back to capture the title.
“We are going out there until the end,” assured Sergio Garcia, playing in his 10th Ryder Cup for Europe. “We are not going to give up, that’s for sure.”
Heading into Sunday’s singles, the US sit just 3 1/2 points away from the 14 1/2 they need to secure the little gold trophy.
It would mark just the second time in six Ryder Cups and third in last 10 that the US has won the title.
While 40,000 mostly American flag waving fans will pour into Whistling Straits on Sunday in full party mode US captain Steve Stricker and his men were not popping the champagne just yet.
“You’re too far ahead of me,” said Xander Schauffele, when asked to compare winning the Tokyo Olympic gold medal to winning a Ryder Cup. “I don’t think any of us are getting too far ahead of ourselves.
“It’s 12 points for grabs tomorrow, and we are all trying to take care of our own business.”
Not since 1975 had the US entered the second day of the Ryder Cup with a four-point cushion and Stricker wisely decided not to mess with success on Saturday, sending out the same four pairings for Saturday’s foursomes as he did on Friday and returned the same result, a dominating 3-1 romp.
Heading into the afternoon fourballs, Stricker again mostly stuck with a winning formula going back to Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler in one pair and Tony Finau and Harris English in another while throwing out two new combinations. With the situation getting more desperate by the moment European captain Padraig Harrington searched for a lifeline.
In a bid to shake things up, Rory McIlroy was left out of a Ryder Cup session for the first time in his career sitting out the morning foursomes after dropping both his opening-day matches.
But Harrington recalled the Northern Irishman for the fourballs reuniting him with fiery Ian Poulter hoping they light a fire.
The pair once again could not capture any past Ryder Cup magic the “Postman” Poulter failing to deliver the points the way he had so often done while McIlroy’s record in at Whistling Straits dropped to 0-3-0.
The one bright spot for the Europeans has been Jon Rahm, who has performed like the world’s top ranked player right from the outset, having a hand in 3 1/2 of Europe’s five points.
Rahm and Garcia earned Europe’s only win on Friday and picked up full points in both Saturday sessions. Rahm also teamed with Tyrrell Hatton for a half-point in Friday’s fourballs.
But the contributions from the rest of the 12-man European squad have been sparse.
The only other pair to win a match were Hatton and Shane Lowry in the fourballs and that was only clinched on the last shot on the final hole when 2019 Open champion Lowry drained a nervy 10-footer for a 1-up victory over Finau and English. — Reuters