SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin (AP) – The final team meeting that saw the Americans close to winning the Ryder Cup ended in a draw that was interpretable.
Scottie Scheffler made the biggest putt of his young career, helping the Americans hit a fourballs match late Saturday afternoon and give them an 11-5 lead.
Not only is it their biggest advantage in modern times since 1979, a team has never won the Ryder Cup if it was more than four points behind the last session of the individual.
“Nobody takes tomorrow for granted,” said US captain Steve Stricker. “We’re totally focused on what we need to do to get the job done.”
For the Europeans, the fact that they haven’t lost a session for the first time in a week has at least shown that they can fight a little. That doesn’t make the task any easier.
“We’re not going to give up,” said Sergio Garcia. “I will give everything for you and I know you will do the same for me. We’ll try the hardest. We know it will be difficult. But we’ll do our best. “
The pressure and drama that are so typical of a Ryder Cup on Saturday were evident. The only real tension, however, was whether Europe could make a game of it.
Instead, the Americans held their own for the last hour. Dustin Johnson ended a perfect team week by winning his fourth match, three of them with Collin Morikawa by his side, and the six US rookies did their part by hitting a combined 9-1-2.
Two of them are Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who overcame Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick with a five-hole stretch of clutch play and big strokes around the turn. Cantlay was walking over a bridge to the 10th tee when he said, “It’s time to put our metal spikes on their (powerful) necks.”
Another is Scheffler, who teamed up with Bryson DeChambeau in the last game on the pitch. The match was perfectly even until Scheffler putted a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, resulting in a violent chest blow with the fluffy DeChambeau. Scheffler has also kept up with that.
“We didn’t want them to win a session,” said Scheffler. “So it was huge for us to get a full point here and the last game on Saturday is always a big game. So it was definitely important for us to keep the momentum on our side.”
Trying to hold their own, the Europeans scored another big win from Jon Rahm and a clutch moment from Shane Lowry who was 18th on the floor.
So much was at stake. So little was gained.
“We are not in a good position and it will take an overwhelming effort,” said Ian Poulter, who has not taken a point in two games. “So we need some miracles.”
The allusion referred to the “Miracle of Medinah” in 2012, when Europe shocked back from a 10-6 deficit. Stricker played on that team and said the Americans learned from their mistakes.
“I will not speak to Medinah,” said Stricker. His message to them was: “Don’t be satisfied with where we are. We want to win the session again tomorrow. “
Tony Finau wanted more.
“You’ve blown us aloft once before. And if we have the opportunity, we will continue it tomorrow, ”he said. “We have guys who are hungry to win a point.”
The 11: 5 lead corresponds to the modern Ryder Cup record of 1979. In 2004, Europe led Oakland Hills with six points and won a nine-point victory. It is the largest lead since the Americans in 1975, by nine leads before Europe was invited to the Games.
The Americans again ran Europe through in rows of four on Saturday morning – a 3-1 lead for the third session in a row – to build a 9-3 lead.
And while Europe was ahead in three of the four-balls in the afternoon, it was a draw.
Next up is the last session with 12 individual games, historically a strength of the Americans. You need to reach 14 1/2 points to win this gold trophy back.
“I think we have a lot of people on this team who really hate to lose and that’s why I think the guys will be cheered and ready to play tomorrow in the individual games,” said Scheffler. “Hopefully get this done.”
Schauffele leads against Rory McIlroy, who has lost all three matches and has not played the 16th hole since the training rounds. He follows Cantlay against Lowry.
Rahm was unbeaten in team play, one of the few bright spots for Europe. World number one, who looked exactly as she was, teamed up with Garcia to win fours in the morning, then held on to beat Brooks Koepka and the cold-hitting Jordan Spieth in four-balls.
Just when it looked like the Americans might level the match, Rahm made a 9-foot birdie on the 16th hole and Spieth missed from 12-feet – the sixth time in four balls he missed from this distance or closer including one that mysteriously circled the whole cup and came out.
Even so, the climb is steeper than some of the wild dunes that dot the landscape of this rugged terrain along the shores of Lake Michigan.
“I’m sure you know you have a big job ahead of you,” said European captain Padraig Harrington. “But it is still possible.”
Europe must win nine of the twelve games to keep the trophy. Harrington noted that this was only half a point more than the previous day in Medinah.
“You just have to go out there and win your own individual game. There is nothing more they can do, ”he said.
The five best players in the world won this Ryder Cup in team play with 15-0-2. The problem for Europe is that four of those players are American.
Johnson, the first American to win 4-0 in team play since Larry Nelson in 1979, was the only American to have played all four games.
“The head start we have created is enormous,” said DeChambeau. “We haven’t had such a good opportunity for a long time and hope that we can get the job done tomorrow. We have to concentrate like it’s 0-0 again and try to get every point we can. “
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