The United States finally had a solid session in the 44th Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy, but it probably came too late.
The Americans won three of the four Saturday afternoon Fourball matches, but still trail Team Europe, 10½-5½, with only the 12 Sunday Singles matches remaining to be played.
The Europeans need to win only four points in singles to finish with 14½ and regain the Cup, while the United States must claim 8½ points for a 14-14 tie to retain the Ryder Cup that it won, 19-9, two years ago at Whistling Straights Golf Club in Sheboygan, Wis.
“Certainly they grabbed some momentum at the end,” European Captain Luke Donald said. “I’m not going to say they didn’t. Certainly … that will give their team some hope, I suppose.
“But again, we are five points up. We are in a great position. I’ve watched these guys over the last couple of days compete with heart and with unity. They are all playing pretty good golf, to be honest. I really like our chances.”
Team USA, which leads the series, 27-14-2, is on the verge of losing for the seventh consecutive time on European soil, last winning on the far side of the Great Pond, 15-13, in 1993 at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.
The biggest comeback for the U.S. in Ryder Cup history came when they were down 10-6, heading into Sunday singles in 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., but the Americans rallied for a 14½-13½ victory by claiming 8½ points on the last day.
“I’m a big believer in fate; I have a feeling about this,” U.S. Captain Ben Crenshaw said the night before his team pulled off that victory 24 years ago.
Said Zach Johnson, the current U.S. Captain, on Saturday: “We’ve got 12 guys; we’ve got 12 possible points. I believe every one of our 12, every guy on my team. can win a point.”
Europe held a 9½-2½ lead entering the Saturday afternoon Fourball matches before the U.S. rallied, with fifth-ranked Patrick Cantlay (pictured) of Los Alamitos and UCLA providing the final point of the day when he sank a 20-foot birdie putt to give him and 10th-ranked Wyndham Clark a 1-up victory over second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England.
“We finally have a moment we can celebrate a little, and we’re going to take that opportunity and try to see if we can turn it into some momentum for tomorrow,” Cantlay said.
In the other American victories in the afternoon, Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal teamed with Sam Burns to beat fourth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway and Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, 4 and 3, while seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal joined with Brian Harman for a 2-and-1 victory over Tommy Fleetwood of England and Nicolai Hogjaard of Denmark.
The only European victory of the afternoon came when Justin Rose of England and Robert McIntyre topped Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, 2 and 1, after to two Americans had been 2-0-1 in previous Fourball matches in the Ryder Cup.
Homa and Harman provided the Americans with their only victory in the Saturday morning Foursomes matches by getting past third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain and Tyrrell Hatton of England, 2 and 1. That was the first full point the U.S. earned in the two days.
“We needed something to go our way,” Homa said. “I felt like we were ready this morning. We were ready to come out and play some great golf, which we did. Somebody had to start a spark, so I’m just glad it was us. We obviously are in a big hole, but we have the right guys to dig ourselves out of it.”
Team Europe built its lead to 9½-2½ in the morning Foursomes, with Hovland and Aberg routing top-ranked Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, 9-7, while Rahm and Hatton defeated Cantlay and sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, and McIlroy and Fleetwood beat Spieth and Thomas, 2 and 1, with the help of back-to-back eagles on the 12th and 13th holes.
That made McIlroy the only player at 3-0 for the first two days, before he lost in the afternoon.
For complete results, plus Sunday’s matchups and tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard