Europe has control of the Ryder Cup, backed by the most lopsided match in history that had Scottie Scheffler in tears.
The Americans can only cling to hope, and they have Patrick Cantlay to thank for that. He birdied his last three holes in the final Four-ball match Saturday, rolling in a 45-foot birdie putt over a ridge and into the cup to hand Rory McIlroy his first loss of the week.
“If there’s any tournament in the world that’s about momentum, it’s this one,” U.S. Captain Zach Johnson said.
Momentum still has a monster mountain to climb at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
Europe still had a five point lead — 10.5-5.5 — and no team has ever rallied from more than a four-point deficit going into the 12 Singles matches Sunday.
“We’re in a great spot,” European Captain Luke Donald said. “There’s always momentum shifts. Patrick Cantlay birdied the last three. It’s not like we gave it to him.”
But it got testy at the end.
Cantlay was the prime target for thousands of European fans who waved their caps at him because he is the only American without one. And perhaps it was in response to a bizarre Sky Sports report that he refused to wear the cap out of protest because he wants to be paid. The report also claimed Cantlay had fractured the team room.
Cantlay said he didn’t wear one because it wasn’t the right fit — just like at Whistling Straits, when he also went without a cap.
As for team unity? The Americans gathered around the 18th green, and when that 45-foot putt dropped and Cantlay slammed his fist, his teammates waved their caps at him.
That included Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, who exchanged words with Shane Lowry, presumably because Europe still had two chances to halve the match with birdie putts from McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick.
McIlroy was seen to be visibly angry outside the clubhouse as Jim “Bones” Mackay, the caddie for Justin Thomas, tried to intervene.
“A few scenes there on 18 and just fuel for the fire tomorrow,” McIlroy said.
But the big picture remains blue and bold.
Europe overwhelmed the Americans again in foursomes, no example greater than Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg. They needed only 11 holes — 2 hours, 20 minutes — to beat Scheffler and Brooks Koepka.
The 9-and-7 victory was the largest in Ryder Cup history over 18 holes. Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world, was seen wiping away tears as he watched the afternoon Four-ball session.
“We’re meeting two strong guys, No. 1 in the world and five-time major champ, so we tried to not give them anything,” Hovland said. “And we played really, really solid. Obviously, we didn’t meet a sharp Scottie and Brooks, but we played some really nice golf today.”
Max Homa and British Open champion Brian Harman, the spark of this U.S. Team, won the only Foursomes match in the morning. They went out again in the afternoon, and Homa delivered five birdies, an eagle and the match-clinching par over Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Højgaard.
Europe keeps getting the best from its top players — Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton took down Cantlay and Schauffele in Foursomes to go 2-0-1 in team play. McIlroy has contributed three points. Justin Rose, at 43 the oldest player in these matches, picked up a win and a halve while shepherding around Scottish rookie Robert MacIntyre.
As for the Americans? Homa, in his Ryder Cup debut, is the only player to have gone all four matches so far. Thomas and Jordan Spieth fell hopelessly behind early in Foursomes and couldn’t catch up, and they were run over late in Four-ball by Rose and MacIntyre.
Rickie Fowler sat out both sessions Saturday. Xander Schauffele lost all three of his matches, and again missed pivotal putts in Foursomes that could have turned the match.
Koepka played once and lost two matches. He was on the losing end of the record performance by Hovland and Åberg, and then Rahm showed him to be petty during a press conference.
Koepka had accused Rahm of acting childishly by smacking a board and said, “We’re adults.” No one knew the reference until Rahm explained it was after he missed a crucial 10-foot putt on Friday evening. The show of anger — mild by his reputation — sparked him.
“I let off some frustration, hitting the board sideways,” Rahm said. “I kept walking, never stopped, that was it. If Brooks thinks that’s childish, it is what it is. He’s entitled to think what he thinks. I don’t know what else to say.”
Europe has done all its talking with points on the board. It was nearly payback from two years ago in Whistling Straits, when the Americans built an 11-5 lead on its way to a record romp over Europe at 19-9.
That’s where it was headed until Cantlay’s big putt.
“Hopefully have a ray of light and we can build on this session and try and pull off a big victory tomorrow,” Cantlay said.
Europe needs only to win four of the 12 Singles matches to win back the cup and keep the Americans winless on European soil since 1993.
Source : PGA Tour