The United States took a 9-3 lead over Europe in the Ryder Cup on Saturday, once again dominating the morning quartets to move ever closer to the coveted title.
The Americans won a third straight session 3-1 at Whistling Straits for their biggest lead since 1975 despite Europe charging in every game, adding to the notion of “Wake by the Lake” on the shores of the lake. Michigan.
Two-time majors Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa defeated England’s Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton 2 & 1 while Tokyo Olympic champions Xander Scheatele and Patrick Cantlay rallied to beat England’s Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick 2 & 1.
Johnson and ScHotele each improved to 3-0.
“I felt like I was playing solid, not trying to do something too crazy, to keep the ball in play,” Johnson said. “We played solid. We got off to a great start.
“We’re just trying to win every session and keep that lead.”
First three-game unbeaten Jon Rahm and all-time Ryder Cup leader Sergio Garcia rallied after dropping the first three holes to beat Americans Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger 3 & 1.
“It means a lot,” Rahm said. “We know it’s a long race. We knew we had three to catch up from the start. We played amazingly from six onwards. We took advantage of the breaks we had.”
But European rookies Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger played 14 holes without hanging around until they faded away at the end as Americans Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth charged late to win 2-up.
“We expect to play well,” said Spieth. “Our team is playing very well and I am proud of them.”
Four afternoon four-ball matches and 12 Sunday singles matches will decide the winner. Americans need 14.5 points to claim the Ryder Cup while Europe need 14 to keep the trophy.
Europe’s hopes looked good at first as Rahm and Garcia rallied. Rahm won the sixth hole with a 10-foot birdie and Garcia went from 41 feet in the ninth to tie.
“We had a lot of holes with birdies and chip-ins,” Garcia said.
Garcia birdied eight feet at the 12th par-3 to give the Spanish duo their first lead. They traded the 13th and 14th holes with bogeys before Garcia blew up his five-foot approach at the 15th par-5 and Rahm sank the eagle putt.
The Spaniards won the match with a par 17th par-3, with Garcia winning a record 24th Ryder Cup match.
“I have been fortunate enough to do this for many years,” Garcia said. “I am so proud to be part of Team Europe.”
Johnson and Morikawa went up 3 after three holes on Johnson’s 47-foot chip in the third par 3 and were 4-10 before Casey and Hatton rallied.
Casey and Hatton won 11 and 13 with pars and 14 when Casey scored for the Eagle at 105 yards. But Hatton missed a five-foot putt to 15 and Johnson hit a four-foot hole to win the hole. They halved the next two to seal the match.
Spieth and Thomas, 3-down after six holes, took their first lead when Wiesberger missed an eight-foot putt at 15 and passed it with an eagle on the 16th par 5 before a bogey rally to end the case.
“Reaching a 3-down is tough,” said Spieth. “Fortunately it was only six holes. We knew that if we played the last 12 under par we could maybe get it back in this wind.”
– ‘It was air combat’ –
Sc Chaudele sank a 31-foot birdie putt to win the seventh par-3 and Cantlay sank a 23-foot birdie putt to win the ninth hole and pass Westwood and Fitzpatrick. The American duo have never been equaled again.
“It was an aerial fight,” ScHotele said. “We knew it would be.”
Harrington put Rory McIlroy on the bench for Saturday’s foursome games after the four-time major winner lost twice in one day for the first time in his Ryder Cup career.
“We know we need a big performance with him in singles,” said Harrington. “He needs to rest like everyone else.
McIlroy and England’s Ian Poulter were due to come back on Saturday with four balls against Johnson and Morikawa.
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