There was a chance — not much of one, true, but a chance nonetheless — that the United States could rally back from Friday’s devastation at the Ryder Cup. Perhaps, with a bit of momentum on Saturday morning, the U.S. could cut into Europe’s five-point lead, setting the stage for a Resurrection in Rome on Sunday.
And then the actual foursome matches started, and, well, that was pretty much that.
Europe stretched its lead to seven points, winning three of four matches to post a score of 9 1/2 to 2 1/2. The United States showed brief signs of a fight, but Europe was simply too talented, rolling in too many putts and riding the wave of crowd momentum, to allow the Americans anything but momentary hope.
EUR: Rory McIlroy/Tommy Fleetwood def. USA: Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas, 2&1
In the entirety of his esteemed Ryder Cup career, Rory McIlroy had never started a weekend 3-0-0 … until now. In a tight back-and-forth match, McIlroy was the difference, finally finding his putting stroke:
Spieth’s struggles from Friday afternoon continued on into Saturday morning. But he and Thomas, a longtime pairing, are two of the few U.S. players showing any kind of fight.
EUR: Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Åberg def. USA: Scottie Scheffler/Brooks Koepka, 9&7
The world No. 1 and the defending PGA Champion suffered the worst defeat ever in the 96-year history of Ryder Cup foursomes, at the hands of a player who’s never won a major and a player who was in college six months ago. This is the kind of beatdown that leaves a deep psychic scar; it’ll be up to Scheffler and Koepka to prove they can shake off this humiliation. Not much more needs to be said about this match than that, except that the United States can probably plan on seeing the Hovland/Åberg pairing for the next six Ryder Cups.
USA: Max Homa/Brian Harman def. Shane Lowry/Sepp Straka, 4&2
The United States finally put its first full point on the board when Homa and Harman, two of the Americans’ few street fighters, used a back-nine burst to get ahead for good. Homa and Harman won three straight holes to start the back nine, and Homa was so confident of his close-out shot that he had his hat off before the ball even found the cup:
EUR: Jon Rahm/Tyrrell Hatton def. USA: Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele, 2&1
For a moment, the United States had a glimmer of hope. Down 3up with seven holes to play, the U.S. rallied to win three straight holes and even the score. But Hatton holed a long, crucial Hole 16 putt and Schauffele missed a shorter one, flipping the match’s entire momentum. On the 17th, Rahm rolled his tee shot to within inches of the cup, and Schauffele again missed a makeable putt.
Rahm continues to add to his Ryder Cup legend, and Europe now takes a seven-point lead into the afternoon.
The Saturday afternoon foursome matches were announced shortly before the end of the final match:
Sam Burns/Collin Morikawa vs. Viktor Hovland/Ludvig Åberg
Max Homa/Brian Harman vs. Tommy Fleetwood/Nicolai Højgaard
Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Rose/Robert MacIntyre
Patrick Cantlay/Wyndham Clark vs. Matt Fitzpatrick/Rory McIlroy
For the United States, only Rickie Fowler will sit all day Saturday.