Ryder Cup: USA extends lead on triumphant Saturday

·3 min read

Victory isn't quite yet in sight for the United States at the Ryder Cup, but it's a lot closer than anyone would have expected at this point in the tournament. With all team play complete, the United States leads Europe 11-5, an all-but-insurmountable lead heading into Sunday's singles matches. 

Through the first three rounds of the Ryder Cup, everything turned up America's way. Three straight 3-1 sessions staked the U.S. to a 9-3 lead heading into the Saturday afternoon fourball sessions. The Americans scuffled, but managed to split the four sessions. 

Every Ryder Cup has its share of heroes, and Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are dueling for that honor this time around. Rahm basically kept Europe afloat singlehandedly, winning 2 1/2 of England's 3 points heading into the afternoon matches. He and playing partner Sergio Garcia, undefeated on the week, squared off against Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth, winning 2&1 and never trailing throughout the entire round. The Rahm/Garcia pairing didn't lose a single match, and Rahm himself heads into Sunday with 3 1/2 points to his name already. 

Johnson, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to establish himself as the Ryder Cup MVP. Playing better than he has at any point since winning the Masters nearly a year ago, Johnson has methodically dismantled the European team, never letting a single opponent reach the 18th hole. 

He and Morikawa had little trouble with Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy, never trailing and closing them out 4&3. It was a solemn comedown for two European Ryder Cup stalwarts, and perhaps the end of the Ryder Cup career for Poulter. 

Elsewhere on the course on Saturday afternoon, Tony Finau lost much of the magic that had carried him on Friday. He and Harris English struggled to keep pace with Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton, playing from behind from the third hole onward. Lowry ended up closing out the Americans, 1-up, with a crucial putt on 18 and a celebration that could be heard back across the pond. 

The remaining match of the afternoon started a little ugly, as Bryson DeChambeau groused about not being given a short putt by the European team of Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland. DeChambeau and playing partner Scottie Scheffler got their heads straight in a hurry, though, and stuck close with the Europeans. Neither team had more than a one-hole advantage, and DeChambeau rose to the moment with multiple key putts that either won holes or kept them out of the hands of Europe. The Americans posted three straight hole wins from 14 to 16, giving them a two-hole lead with two holes to play. The next hole, Scheffler closed out the Europeans, 3&1, to give the Americans a six-point advantage. 

The team with the lead heading into Sunday has a huge advantage, winning outright 12 of 17 times and winning via tie once. The largest comeback is four points, done twice — first by Team USA in 1999, and more recently by Europe in 2012.

The 12 singles matches begin at noon Eastern on Sunday, and the celebrations — one way or another — will begin shortly thereafter. 

SHEBOYGAN, WI - SEPTEMBER 25:  Jordan Spieth of the U.S. Team celebrates and pumps his fist after making an eagle putt on the 16th hole green during Saturday Morning Foursomes Matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 25, 2021 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
SHEBOYGAN, WI - SEPTEMBER 25: Jordan Spieth of the U.S. Team celebrates and pumps his fist after making an eagle putt on the 16th hole green during Saturday Morning Foursomes Matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 25, 2021 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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