Europe are 10-6 up going into Sundays singles after a captaincy masterclass from Thomas Bjrn and inspirational golf from Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood
The extent of Europes stranglehold on the Ryder Cup is such that terminology referring to miracles is used when discussing the last time a lead such as this was overturned. A United States side apparently united as never before needs individual skill to retrieve this situation. How poetic.
Thomas Bjrn and his fearless team will take an advantage of 10-6 into Sundays singles session. The same margin applied overnight Saturday into Sunday in the USs favour at Medinah in 2012, when Jos Mara Olazbal oversaw a recovery for the ages. Europe led 10-6 after two days at Brookline in 1999, before the US roared back. These, however, are the notable exceptions; it would be a major surprise if Europe do not reclaim the cup from here.
Bjrn, never a truly celebrated figure on the European Tour, is on the verge of making a mockery of the US teams pre-tournament favourites tag. This has been a captaincy masterclass so far.
Every Ryder Cup has its heroes. There is no disputing the main characters here. Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood have made history by becoming the first European pairing to win four matches out of four. That Tiger Woods has featured in three of those encounters merely adds to how special this achievement is. Hollywood moments for the pair dubbed Moliwood.
We have come to do a job, not get into the record books, said Molinari, epitomising Europes approach. We still need those four and a half points tomorrow.
Woods, out of sorts and out of sync, rather sums up all that has gone wrong for Jim Furyk. The US captain never has been an extrovert character but the scale of his worry as the Ryder Cup slip, slip, slipped from his countrys grasp was clear. Furyks leadership this far has been without theme or, to a large extent, logic.
It seemed incredible to think at one stage on Friday the European contingent wore worried expressions. The US had won this events first session 3-1 before a quite stunning turnaround which has left Furyk and his players on the ropes.
This is an American team with camaraderie supposedly at its core. By lunchtime on Saturday, as 5-3 became 8-4, it was patently obvious that all the table tennis matches and task forces on the planet cannot account for poor form. Exhibit A was Patrick Reed, so abject in partnership with Woods that Captain America had turned into Captain Calamity. Woods has quite enough back problems without having to carry a partner.
At one stage, Europe were on course to secure back-to-back session clean sweeps for the first time. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth spared Furyk that ignominy. The scale of Thomass celebrations en route to a 1up success over Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm were odd, given the wider predicament of his team, but were perhaps indicative of the USs need to cling to any kind of hope. Europe had actually won eight matches in a row when marching from 3-0 behind to 8-3 in front.
Sergio Garca and Rory McIlroy suffered late stress in their fourball encounter with Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka. The US Open champions putter proved as cold as a winters morning in Siberia. Yet Finau offered late hope before Garca slammed the door shut with a stunning conversion from 30ft on the 17th. It was over, 2&1.
The excellence of Paul Casey on his return to the Ryder Cup fold has probably been overlooked. Casey combined with a rejuvenated Tyrrell Hatton for a 3&2 victory over Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Moliwood did what Moliwood does as Woods and Reed were swatted aside 4&3. That Thomas and Spieth achieved their fourball victory doused the possibility of a procession.
As he has done so impressively thus far, Bjrn stuck to a plan devised earlier. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson were united once more in the opening foursomes clash. The Europeans lost the 1st but replied with shrugs; Johnson and Koepka were duly dispatched 2&1.
Garca and Alex Norn had achieved such a comfortable win on Friday afternoon that reuniting them made perfect sense. The US, via Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, were to bite back this time. With Norn especially off colour, Watson and Simpson prevailed 3&2. This clash saw a Ryder Cup first: the second hole was halved in six, a triple bogey. Briefly, a monthly medal had broken out.
Bryson DeChambeau stepped in beside Woods but Molinari and Fleetwood did not care; Europe cantered home, 5&4. Thomas and Spieth, shining American lights, had too much for Poulter and McIlroy when winning 4&3. The bigger picture, though, is overwhelmingly blue.
It would be folly to suggest the US cannot turn this around. Nonetheless, the weight of history they have not prevailed on this continent for 25 years must weigh heavily on Furyks mind.
So, too, the widely trumpeted assertion that this is one of the finest golf teams the Americans or anyone else has ever assembled. Furyks selection of Phil Mickelson, to play the left-hander in a single foursomes session before banishing him to the benches for all of Saturday, is one of many decisions open to criticism. A captaincy Je ne regrette rien is unlikely to wash. Bjrn is in the home straight.
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