Four-Ball rally increases U.S. lead to 11-5
Beginning the fourth session with a hefty 9-3 lead, the U.S. Team made a few changes to their lineup compared to Friday afternoon. Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas were relegated to (enthusiastic) cheerleaders on the first tee, while Ryder Cup rookies Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay got their first rest of the week.
And while the Europeans put up their best performance of any session, a late American charge snuffed out any thoughts of a comeback. Here’s how the afternoon matches played out, as the two teams split four available points to increase the U.S. advantage to 11-5:
TOTAL SCORE: U.S. 11, Europe 5
Saturday Afternoon Four-Balls: U.S. 2, Europe 2
Match 1: Shane Lowry/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) def. Harris English/Tony Finau (U.S.), 1 up
A hot start from Lowry and English saw the two trading birdies on both Nos. 1 and 2. However, with English finding trouble on the par-3 third, the Irishman continued his birdie-making ways, grabbing an early 1-up lead for the Europeans.
It would stay that way as the two teams made the turn, with Lowry appearing to be on an island by himself as Hatton struggled. Making his fifth birdie of the afternoon on No. 10, the Irishman was again matched by English.
Hatton would finally come to Lowry’s aid as a birdie on the par-4 11th doubled the European lead. The 2-up advantage was short-lived as Finau’s birdie on No. 13, his first of the afternoon, gave the Americans their first hole of the match.
With English’s birdie conceded on the par-4 14th, Hatton came up huge for the Europeans, connecting from just inside of 35 feet to maintain their 1-up advantage, and it stayed that way heading to No. 18.
Lowry found trouble off the tee, meaning the Europeans’ hopes in the first match seemed to rest on the shoulders of Hatton. However, after pitching out and finding the green with his third, it was Lowry who ended up with the match hanging on his putter. As he did most of the day, the burly Irishman came through, holing a clutch 10-foot par putt and, in the process, cut into the U.S. lead.
Match 2: Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia (Europe) def. Brooks Koepka/Jordan Spieth (U.S.), 2 and 1
Rahm was back to his usual ways, making birdie on the opening hole to snag some early momentum for Team Europe. However, Spieth countered on the very next, converting a 15-footer for eagle and foreshadowing the back-and-forth nature of this match.
The world No. 1 and Europe’s finest this week kept the foot on the gas, winning Nos. 3 and 4 to push the lead to 2 up. With Spieth in close on the long par-3 seventh, it looked as if the Americans would cut into the lead. Rahm had other plans, finding the bottom of the cup from just outside 25 feet and extending the European lead to 3 up once Spieth’s efforts went wayward.
The Americans would get the dropped hole back on No. 8 when Koepka rolled in his first birdie of the afternoon. Again, the two-time PGA champion came through, cutting the Spanish lead in half with a birdie on No. 10. With another birdie on No. 13, Koepka had single-handedly tied the match for the first time since the second hole.
With a chance to put some pressure on Rahm, Spieth’s struggles on the greens continued, missing a short birdie opportunity on No. 15. Unfazed, the young Spaniard came through for the Europeans, striking a birdie blow and recapturing a 1-up lead.
Again, on the par-5 16th, Rahm delivered, this time applying the pressure on the Americans with a lengthy birdie. The struggles with the putter continued for Spieth, meaning the European lead grew to 2 up with two holes to play.
As they have all week, the Spanish duo closed the match on the par-3 17th, securing their third victory together and Europe’s fifth point of the 43rd Ryder Cup.
Match 3: Bryson DeChambeau/Scottie Scheffler (U.S.) def. Tommy Fleetwood/Viktor Hovland (Europe), 3 and 1
Tensions were high to begin the penultimate match as both teams looked to improve on their ties in yesterday’s Four-Ball session. The young Norwegian struck first, walking in an unlikely birdie on the difficult par-3 third.
DeChambeau’s putter then came to life, connecting from distance on No. 4 to tie the hole then again on No. 5 to pull even with the European side. They would capture their first lead of the afternoon when Hovland needed three putts on the par-3 seventh while Scheffler secured a tidy par. However, bogey would be the best the Americans could do on the par-4 eighth, relinquishing the lead immediately.
Capitalizing on the momentum, Hovland rolled in yet another birdie on No. 9, his fourth of the front half, giving the European side a 1-up lead going into the back nine.
The away side still held that advantage through 13 holes when the Americans caught fire at just the right time. A DeChambeau birdie on No. 14 leveled the match, while birdies from Scheffler on Nos. 16 and 17 gave the Americans a 2-up lead with two to play.
With the boisterous crowd surrounding him, DeChambeau gave the people exactly what they wanted. Settling inside of 7 feet, DeChambeau’s tee shot secured a second point for the U.S. Team and a six-point advantage going into tomorrow’s Singles matches.
Match 4: Collin Morikawa/Dustin Johnson (U.S.) def. Ian Poulter/Rory McIlroy (Europe), 4 and 3
An early, passionate yell from Poulter was matched by a subtle fist pump courtesy of Johnson as the two converted birdie opportunities on the opening hole. Johnson would keep it going, adding another one on No. 2 to grab the early lead for the Americans.
It remained that way until the fiery Englishman tied things up on the par-5 fifth, connecting from just inside 30 feet for his second birdie of the afternoon. The U.S. Team would regain the lead immediately as Morikawa drove the green on the short par-4 sixth, an ideal hole for the 2020 PGA champion. He followed it up with a birdie on the par-3 seventh and a par on the par-4 eighth, quickly stretching the American lead to 3 up.
On cruise control the rest of the way, the dynamic American duo secured yet another point for the U.S. Team. Closing with a Morikawa birdie on No. 15, the Americans put their first point on the afternoon leaderboard, improving Johnson to 4-0 and Morikawa to 3-0.