GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy – A trio of Patrick Cantlay Birdies gave America hope. The Europeans go into the final day of the Ryder Cup knowing they need four individual points to maintain their 30-year winning streak on home soil, but Saturday’s afternoon session gave the US something to build on as the Tournament in tempting mood, Europe leads 10½-5½.
After the morning it looked like it was going to be a European Cup win as they won three of the four morning games, including a record victory Ludwig Aberg And Viktor Hovland above Brooks Koepka And Scottie Scheffler. Reputation and rankings didn’t matter at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, and Europe started where it left off on Friday and continued in the afternoon with players like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm And Tommy Fleetwood everything shines.
But then the comeback began for the Americans, who won three of their four four-ball games with the duo Sam Burns And Collin Morikawa secured their first victory, quickly followed by the double act of Max Homa And Brian Harman. Cantlay’s brilliant finish turned the U.S. loss into a win in the final three holes of Saturday’s play and gave Sunday a more exciting feel than might have been thought possible after the morning’s foursomes.
Instead of Cantlay asking questions about his brilliant finish, post-session attention focused on reports of a split in the American camp and whether his decision not to wear a cap was some kind of protest. Cantlay looked amused while Harman said how much he loved his teammates and Zach Johnson revealed that the team struggled with illnesses during their stay in Rome.
Then came more drama: a disgruntled McIlroy had to be restrained in the parking lot after his match, during which he and the crowd stood on the sidelines, ended controversially Justin Rose And Shane Lowry were angry at Cantlay’s caddy Joe LaCava.
“When Patrick made the putt, Joe waved his hat,” said the European captain Luke Donald explained. Rory politely asked Joe to step aside as he was in his line of sight. He stood still for a while and continued to wave his hat, and Rory was annoyed by it.”
In short, the film is bubbling up nicely ahead of the actual box office Sunday.
What works for Team Europe?
The statistics-based approach that Europe has chosen – with Edoardo Molinari at the top – worked well in three of the four sessions. In the afternoon session on Saturday, the machine malfunctioned for the first time as players looked tired and shots that would have gone in kept missing.
The Europeans have great team cohesion and they have also developed the newcomers well – focusing on ensuring they are included in every aspect of the experience and supporting this in the pairings. Take Justin Rose And Robert MacIntyre: Rose gave MacIntyre a pep talk on Sunday afternoon, telling him to put his foot down for 20 minutes, and it was that little impulse that got the job done. Rose can draw on previous Ryder Cup experience to guide the newcomer through the race.
But Team Europe needs to make sure these newcomers have a chance to rest and recover. They will be nervous before Sunday and the rest of the team will need to bring their experience to bear to help them through the exciting final day of the Ryder Cup.
The Europeans also have to concentrate. They need to cool down the frustration that manifested itself in the parking lot.
“Ryder Cups are always passionate – we’ve seen that in the past,” Donald said.
“Tomorrow I will address all 12 of my boys again, give them the right messages and they will be ready to play.”
If the US team has a chance at a comeback, how will it happen?
The US needs to bottle what came through on Saturday afternoon and use the same cocktail on Sunday. The Americans looked like a completely different team than the one we had seen in the previous three meetings. In the afternoon we saw the likes of Homa, Harman, Cantlay and Burns grab the competition by the scruff of the neck and drag their team back into the depths. They putted far better in the afternoon four-ball than at any point in the previous two days and will need to continue to make those crucial shots.
The US team also needs reinforcements from its stars. Koepka and Scheffler had a dismal Saturday – the Americans need these big hitters back at their best. The same applies Jordan Spiethwho had a quiet Ryder Cup and who we didn’t see either Rickie Fowler since Friday morning. The US must continue to fire back at the home crowd and carry that passion at the right level.
Who is one of the US players you will be adding tomorrow?
Homa was probably America’s best player at this Ryder Cup and he will be the only visitor to have played all five matches over the weekend when he competes in singles on Sunday. He has 2½ points to his name and excelled in four-ball with four birdies and two eagles on Saturday afternoon. He enjoyed some interactions with the audience and will head into Sunday feeling confident.
“We get yelled at a lot,” Homa said Saturday. “They’re actually pretty friendly here, but they make fun of us all day long. So it’s just my pleasure, 15, a guy – after I greased my first chip, a guy just gave it to me for the 10 minutes I had,” it said, so I turned back around and said something him.
“So it’s just fun. It’s fun.”
“JT told me at the Presidents Cup how much fun it was to be at these events because you can act like an idiot if you want to, and I acted like an idiot the few times I did “I was lucky that my ball went into the hole.” . [It] It just comes out of you sometimes.
Which European player do you think will be stronger tomorrow?
He’s already made progress, but McIlroy will be an exciting sight to see on Sunday. He’s been around long enough to know how to control his emotions and he’ll stay level-headed when the singles get going, but he can be expected to lead the European lead. Donald will speak to McIlroy about what happened in the car park before the game begins on Sunday, but he has full confidence in the man who has already taken three points this year.
“I’ll talk to Rory when I get back,” Donald said. “I did not personally see the incident. I saw it on the 18th. Yes, I think we – as I said in my speech, always try to play with passion, with energy, but with respect. That will certainly be my message to the players.”
Which game (or games) are you most looking forward to on Sunday?
Jon Rahm vs. Scottie Scheffler
Viktor Hovland vs. Collin Morikawa
Justin Rose vs. Patrick Cantlay
Rory McIlroy vs Sam Burns
Matt Fitzpatrick vs. Max Homa
Tyrrell Hatton vs Brian Harman
Ludvig Aberg vs. Brooks Koepka
Sepp Straka against Justin Thomas
Nicolai Hojgaard vs. Xander Schauffele
Shane Lowry vs. Jordan Spieth
Tommy Fleetwood vs. Rickie Fowler
Robert MacIntyre vs. Wyndham Clark
There are some blockbuster matches included. The first one between Rahm and Scheffler will be like an old school action movie. McIlroy’s match against Burns promises to be lively, while Fitzpatrick-Homa will be a coin toss. But perhaps the most fascinating of all is Aberg-Koepka. Aberg only turned pro in June and now he faces a five-time major winner in Koepka – there are few tests bigger than this for Aberg, but he has the strength to overcome the big challenge.
Predicting the final result and who will take home the trophy?
Europe will end up winning 16½-11½ and it will be Lowry who gets the Europeans over the finish line, but there will be nervous moments in the early stages and Donald’s team will have to stop the American attack.