The United States seized a commanding 11-5 lead over Europe at the Ryder Cup on Saturday, with the visitors needing a record comeback on Sunday to deny the Americans the trophy.
The US squad, boasting nine of the world’s 11 top-ranked players, need only 3.5 points in Sunday’s 12 final singles matches at Whistling Straits to reclaim the Ryder Cup while Europe need nine points to keep it.
“You know, it’s not over,” said US star Dustin Johnson, the only 4-0 player at this year’s Ryder Cup. “We’ve still got to go out and everybody needs to play well. We’ve still got to get four points or 3 1/2.”
There was a sense Sunday could be a “Wake by the Lake” for Europe on the Lake Michigan shoreline as no team has rallied from more than a 10-6 last-day deficit to capture the Ryder Cup, that coming for Europe in the 2012 “Miracle at Medinah.”
“Let’s see if we can make history,” Spain’s Sergio Garcia said after two wins with Jon Rahm on Saturday.
“We’re not going to give up, that’s for sure. It’s going to be difficult but we’re going to give it our best. We’re going to fight until the end as hard as we can.”
The Americans won a third consecutive session 3-1 in Saturday foursomes and split four four-ball matches to grab their largest two-day lead in the team golf showdown since 1975.
“We’re not in a good position,” Europe’s Ian Poulter said. “It’s going to take a beyond monumental effort.”
The Europeans have won four of the past five Ryder Cups and nine of the past 12 but the Americans have looked superior by far.
“The lead we’ve created is huge,” US star Bryson DeChambeau said. “We haven’t had this good an opportunity in a long time and hopefully we can get the job done. We’ve got to focus like it’s 0-0 and try to get every point we can.”
Second-ranked Johnson rose to 4-0 with US wins in foursomes and four-balls alongside fellow two-time major winner Collin Morikawa.
“I just feel like I’ve just played solid,” Johnson said. “Not trying to do anything too crazy. Just keep the ball in play.”
Shane Lowry sank an 11-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to give the Irishman and Tyrell Hatton a 1-up four-balls win over Americans Tony Finau and Harris English, producing Europe’s only pairs win not taken by Rahm and Garcia.
“We’re still not out of it,” Lowry said. “It’s a long day tomorrow. We just have to believe. It’s all about believing.
“If you’ve got a 1% chance, you have to have 100% faith. We really need to live by that and go out and give it our best.”
DeChambeau and Scott Scheffler won the last four holes in a knife’s edge four-ball match to beat Europe’s Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood 3&1.
“For us to be able to flip that match was huge,” Scheffler said. “It’s just a big momentum swing from being 10-6 again like it was at Medinah.
“Guys are going to be fired up and ready to play, hopefully finish this thing off.”
Rahm combined with Garcia for a 3&1 foursomes win over Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger and a 2&1 four-balls win over Koepka and Jordan Spieth.
‘You never know’
Garcia, the top scorer in Ryder Cup history, now has a record 25 match wins while Rahm has 3.5 points, the most ever by a world number one in any Ryder Cup.
“If we get off to a good start, like what happened in 2012, and things start going our way, you never know,” Rahm said.
“Golf is a very complicated and ironic and sarcastic game sometimes and teams can be capable of some great things, like the US has done so far the last two days.”
While US captain Steve Stricker warned, “It’s not over,” he praised his team for the lead it has built.
“It shows a lot of guts and internal fortitude,” Stricker said. “Everybody came in ready and prepared. They put a lot of time and energy into it.”
Rory McIlroy, who joined Poulter in a 4&3 four-balls loss to Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, fell to 0-3 this week.
“Disappointing not to contribute a point for the team yet,” McIlroy said. “Hopefully we can rally and give them something to sweat about tomorrow.”