09/25/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/25/2021 20:11
All 12 of the U.S. team have now won a match and garnered at least one point while elder statesman Dustin Johnson, at 37, is undefeated with a 4-0-0 record. Should he win his Singles match he will join Arnold Palmer (1967), Gardner Dickinson (1967) and Larry Nelson (1979) as the only Americans to go 5-0-0 in Ryder Cup history.
After winning the morning Foursomes session 3-1 the U.S. was in control and while for a brief moment in the afternoon Four-ball session Europe was ahead or tied in all four matches, a 2-2 split confirmed the 11-5 score line.
Bryson DeChambeau and rookie Scottie Scheffler turned their match against Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland from a deficit to a win late in proceedings - a significant result given that teams trailing 10-6 have come back to win in the past. Europe famously did so in 2012 at Medinah and the U.S. had their own miracle from that position in 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline.
The last time it was this lopsided was when Europe led by the same margin on the way to a 18.5-9.5 rout at Oakland Hills in 2004. The last time the U.S. led by six or more points was when they destroyed Great Britain and Ireland 21-11 in 1975 having led 12.5-3.5 heading to Singles.
Since continental Europe joined the competition in 1979 no winning team has reached 19 points. Europe's 2004 score line was matched again in 2006 while the U.S. winning record is the same margin over that period having hit 18.5-9.5 in 1981.
This team shows no signs of backing off the gas pedal and might yet make history. In a tense day's play there were numerous heated moments as players debated rulings, and non-conceded putts while the partisan American crowd was particularly raucous. Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, sitting in the afternoon, implored them to get louder still. They even joined them and chugged a beer.
"They are playing with some freedom. They are having a great time. So it's good to see," Stricker said.
The confidence spilling out of the young Americans was obvious for all to see. And to be fair, they earned it by playing some incredible golf.
"Personally I thought we could have gone 4-0 (in the afternoon). But getting 2-2 and just staying in the same place, the lead that we have created is huge. We haven't had this good of an opportunity in a long time and hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow," DeChambeau said.
"We have the best players in the world and they have got a lot of the best players in the world too but I would say from the standpoint of average ranking, I think we're pretty solid and we just have to play our game tomorrow."
DeChambeau is right. While the Europeans have the world No. 1, the U.S team boasts those ranked 2-7, 9-11, 13, 16 and 21. After Rahm at 1, Europe's next best are Hovland at 14 and Rory McIlroy at 15. McIlroy has gone 0-3-0 this week - a devastating predicament for his side.
"Obviously disappointing not to contribute a point for the team yet," McIlroy said. "Hopefully just go out tomorrow and try my best to get a point, and hopefully we can rally and at last give them something to sweat about tomorrow in the middle of the afternoon."
His fellow teammates were also refusing to throw in the towel. They know they'll need an historic effort, but 18-hole match play can always throw up left field results.
"We're still not out of it. It's a long day tomorrow, 12 matches. If any 12 of us were going out against any of them in the match play (tournament), we would fancy our chances. We just have to believe. It's all about believing," Lowry said after burying an 11-foot par putt on the 18th hole to win his match.
"I read a quote last night and it was - if you've got a 1 percent chance, you have to have 100 percent faith. And I just think that we really need to live by that tonight and tomorrow and go out and give it our best."
Rahm, who is undefeated going 3-0-1 (3-0 with Garcia), has been a shining light for his team. But he can only do so much.
"From what I hear, the team is playing good. Just putts not dropping in and a couple things here and there that haven't happened," Rahm said. "I'd like to believe that things even out. So tomorrow, if we get off to a good start, kind of like what happened in 2012, and things start going our way, you never know.
"Golf is a very complicated and ironic and sarcastic game sometimes, and teams can be capable of some great things, like the U.S. has done so far the last two days. It could be our chance, and I know everybody on the team is going to give it their all and give that a run."
Captain Padraig Harrington will need to revive the spirits of 2012 in the team room tonight - with the help of McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Garcia and Lee Westwood who were all part of the side. While Harrington was not there, his vice-captains Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell were.
With their hand forced Europe will send its stars out early in a bid to gain some momentum. McIlroy has been given a shot at redemption by leading the order where he will play against Xander Schauffele. He is followed by Lowry (v Cantlay), Rahm (v Scheffler) and Garcia (v DeChambeau) the inform players for the visitors.
"They have to just go out there and win their own individual match. There's nothing more they can do than that," Harrington said. "They have to focus on that and not look at that bigger picture and focus on their individual self and play their game and win that and then just see how it adds up."
As brash and confident as they are, the Americans insist they'll come out without a shred of complacency.
"We go into it with the mindset that we don't have a lead; that we are at level and go fight for every point. That was the message last night, and I think it played out well for us today," DeChambeau said.
Stricker was playing in the 2012 team under Captain Davis Love III. Love is one of his vice-captains at Whistling Straits this week. At Medinah they took the ire of many in the final wash up for - among other things - putting Tiger Woods in the anchor slot despite the big lead.
"We learned a lot of lessons from 2012," Stricker said. "Probably the thing I can say is that we didn't do a good job putting our lineup out on Sunday. Not that we took it for granted by any stretch of the imagination, but we just could have done better with it.
"And that was on our mind here today. We think about our past mistakes, and we are trying to learn from them and see what we can do to try and improve on them, and that was definitely one of the things that we were talking about up there tonight."
This time around Stricker has opened with Olympic Gold medalist Schauffele and recent FedExCup winning Cantlay - who are both undefeated this week. He has his other top point getters, Johnson and Collin Morikawa, at slot five and six to counter the top-heavy European line up.
Johnson is the only current American player who felt the sting at Medinah. He won't allow for it to happen again. He will play against Paul Casey in the middle of the Singles order, in a prime position to perhaps garner the clinching point.
"We've still got to go out, and everybody needs to play well. We've still got to get three and half points. We know it's not over," Johnson said. "I will give my all to them, and I know they will do the same thing for me."