Ryder Cup 2021: United States poised for victory over Europe with 11-5 lead

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The United States look set to regain the Ryder Cup after opening a six-point lead over Europe at Whistling Straits.

The Americans built on their overnight 6-2 advantage to win three of Saturday’s foursomes matches and two more fourballs.

The 11-5 scoreline is joint-largest lead in the modern era of the Ryder Cup since 1975, when the United States were only competing against Great Britain & Ireland.

No team has ever won a tournament after trailing by more than four points going to the final singles sessions.

The only European resistance was offered by the new “Spanish Armada” of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia.

With the three-and-one win over Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, Garcia overtook Nick Faldo for the overall record of Ryder Cup victories.

And he would improve on that record as the two Spanish golfers won their Saturday afternoon fourballs match two-and-one over Koepka and Jordan Spieth.

Rahm – the world’s highest-ranked golfer — remains undefeated this tournament, having scored 3.5 points for Europe.

But the United States now needs just 3.5 points from the 12 singles matches on Sunday to claim victory.

Another 3-1 session victory for the US

In a repeat of Friday morning, Europe won Saturday’s first point, but were well beaten in the three other foursomes matches in Wisconsin.

Behind strong approach play and confident putting, the United States opened a historic 9-3 lead on Saturday morning.

There was little for European supporters to cheer, as Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa defeated Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton three-and-two.

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Casey would however record arguably the shot of the day, with a superb eagle shot at the 14th hole that drew applause from even the watching American crowds.

In Saturday’s third foursomes match, two of Europe’s rookies — Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger — were stunned by Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Europe had led through much of the match, but Team United States won four of the last five holes to finish two up.

And in the final foursomes, Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick were beaten two-and-one by American rookies in Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

Europe avoid defeat in final session

A small hope for Europe’s captain Padraig Harrington is that his team managed to tie Saturday’s afternoon fourballs session 2-2.

After Rahm and Garcia claimed their third victory as a pair in the opening match, Team United States responded.

Dustin Johnson — the oldest player on Team United States — became the first golfer from his country to win all four of his team play matches at a Ryder Cup since 1979.

Paired with Collin Morikawa, Johnson confidently defeated Team Europe’s Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy four-and-three to make it 10-4.

Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau then added to the US lead further by defeating Hovland and England’s Tommy Fleetwood three-and-one.

But Europe avoided another 3-1 session defeat by winning the fourth fourballs match behind Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton.

In a tight match against Tony Finau and Harris English, Europe secured their point on the final hole to avoid a historic deficit.

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Brookline, Medinah and … Whistling Straits?

If Europe are to retain the 2021 Ryder Cup, they will need to play outstanding golf in Sunday’s head-to-head singles matches.

The largest-ever comeback in a final session of the tournament came from a 10-6 deficit, on both occasions on US soil.

In 1999, Team United States stormed back against Europe at Brookline, Massachusetts by claiming 8.5 points on the final day.

Thirteen years later, Europe equaled that achievement at Medinah Country Club in Illinois, recovering from a 10-6 deficit to win 14.5-13.5.

Four players from that 2012 victory will be in again for Europe at Whistling Straits on Sunday.

One of those is Rory McIlroy, who despite losing all three games so far this tournament, will play first against Xander Schauffele.

They will be followed by Shane Lowry against Patrick Cantlay, before Rahm returns to the course for Europe against Scottie Scheffler.

Rahm’s experienced compatriot Garcia will then take on the hard-hitting DeChambeau in Sunday’s fourth singles match.

Hovland faces Morikawa, while Casey takes on the in-form Johnson. The American will be aiming to match Italy’s Francesco Molinari, who went 5-0 for Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.

Bernd Wiesberger will take on Koepka, before another Medinah hero in Poulter plays Tony Finau.

The eight singles match on Sunday sees Hatton play Justin Thomas, ahead of Lee Westwood against Harris English.

Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth will battle in the penultimate singles match, with Matt Fitzpatrick and Daniel Berger last out on the course.

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Europe needs to win nine of the 12 matches to retain the cup, only 0.5 more than they managed at Medinah in 2012.

“They have to just go out there and win their own individual match,” Team Europe’s captain Harrington told reporters. “There’s nothing more they can do than that.”

Thomas and Berger meanwhile, had riled up the American supporters at Whistling Straits on Saturday afternoon by drinking beers in celebration.

A premature gesture that Europe could use as ammunition on Sunday.

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