U.S. punches back in final four-balls session, but Europe still dominating Ryder Cup
It was more of the same for the Europeans on Saturday at Marco Simone, although the Americans finally found some life in the afternoon. But it still might be too little too late.
After a dominant Friday performance in which they jumped out to a five-point lead, Luke Donald’s squad picked up where they left off on Day 2. The Euros won three of four matches in the morning session — including a 9-and-7 beatdown courtesy of Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg — to add to their lead. The afternoon proved more fruitful for the Americans as they won three of four matches to chip away at the lead, but they still go into Sunday singles needing a miracle. The Europeans have a 10.5-5.5 lead, needing just four points to claim back the Ryder Cup.
Here’s how Saturday’s matches unfolded.
The Europeans’ dominance of alternate shot continued on Saturday morning. After sweeping the first foursomes session on Day 1, the Euros took three of four matches in the morning session to begin Day 2. The Scandinavian duo of Hovland and Aberg were the MVPs for Europe, as they dispatched Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka 9 and 7 in the second match of the morning. The teams of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton as well as Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood also won their matches to extend Europe’s lead to 9.5-2.5 heading into the afternoon.
Burns/Morikawa def. Hovland/Aberg 4 and 3
Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg were brilliant in their morning foursomes match, but they could not continue the momentum into the afternoon. The American pair of Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa seized the match early on — featuring four front-nine birdies — and they stretched their lead to as large as 6 up. After a small charge by the Euros on the back nine, Burns and Morikawa closed out the match with a par on No. 15. The win was just the second full point scored by the Americans and their first full point in four-balls at Marco Simone.
Homa/Harman def. Fleetwood/Højgaard 2 and 1
After securing the first full point for the Americans in morning foursomes, Max Homa and Brian Harman delivered yet again in the afternoon. The duo combined for seven birdies and an eagle in their match with Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Højgaard and never trailed. The win gave the Homa/Harman pair a 2-1-0 record on the week and made them the only Americans with a winning record in Rome.
Rose/MacIntyre def. Spieth/Thomas 3 and 2
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas just didn’t have their usual magic on Saturday. After halving their only match on Day 1, Spieth and Thomas lost twice on Saturday, with neither of their matches reaching the 18th hole. Their four-ball match with Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose got off to a promising start as they held a 1-up lead through five holes. However, after tying the match on No. 9, the Euros dominated the back nine, winning three of seven holes as they closed out the match 3 and 2.
Cantlay/Clark def. Fitzpatrick/McIlroy 1 up
Although there was some drama surrounding Patrick Cantlay on Saturday, he delivered for the Americans in a big way. With Team USA clinging to a 2-1 edge in the afternoon session, he and Wydham Clark stepped to the 18th tee tied with Matthew Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy. After a lackluster chip onto the green, Cantlay drained a 43-foot putt for birdie, which was enough to secure a 1-up victory and 3-1 session for the Americans. With the session win, the Yanks head to Sunday singles facing a five-point deficit, needing 8.5 points to retain the Cup.