Golf: US take 11-5 lead over Europe, tighten grip on Ryder Cup ahead of final day

Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler of team United States at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin on Sept 25, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KOHLER, WISCONSIN (REUTERS) - The United States tightened their grip on the Ryder Cup with another day of domination at wind-whipped Whistling Straits on Saturday (Sept 25), taking a commanding 11-5 lead over holders Europe, who need to produce a historic comeback if they are to retain their title.

Comfortably in front 6-2 at the start of the day, the US turned up the pressure in the morning foursomes, taking three of four points before fending off a fightback from the Europeans in the afternoon fourballs splitting the matches 2-2.

Only nine times in 42 Ryder Cups has a team come from behind on the final day to lift the trophy.

No team has ever rallied from six points down going into Sunday's singles although twice teams have come from four back to capture the title, the US in 1999 and Europe in 2012.

Heading into Sunday's singles, the US sit just 31/2 points away from the 141/2 they need to secure the little gold trophy.

It would mark just the second time in six Ryder Cups and third in last 10 that the US have won the title.

While 40,000 mostly American flag-waving fans will pour into Whistling Straits on Sunday in full party mode, US captain Steve Stricker and his men were not popping the champagne just yet.

Not since 1975 had the US entered the second day of the Ryder Cup with a four-point cushion and Stricker wisely decided not to mess with success on Saturday, sending out the same four pairings for Saturday's foursomes as he did on Friday and returned the same result, a dominating 3-1 romp.

Heading into the afternoon fourballs, Stricker again mostly stuck with a winning formula going back to Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler in one pair and Tony Finau and Harris English in another while throwing out two new combinations.

With the situation getting more desperate by the moment, European captain Padraig Harrington searched for a lifeline.

In a bid to shake things up, Rory McIlroy was left out of a Ryder Cup session for the first time in his career, sitting out the morning foursomes after dropping both his opening-day matches.

But Harrington recalled the Northern Irishman for the fourballs, reuniting him with fiery Ian Poulter hoping they might light a fire.

The pair once again could not capture any past Ryder Cup magic, the "Postman" Poulter failing to deliver the points the way he had so often done while McIlroy's record at Whistling Straits dropped to 0-3-0.

The one bright spot for the Europeans has been Jon Rahm, who has performed like the world's top-ranked player right from the outset, having a hand in 31/2 of Europe's five points.

Rahm and Garcia earned Europe's only win on Friday and picked up full points in both Saturday sessions. Rahm also teamed with Tyrrell Hatton for a half-point in Friday's fourballs.

But the contributions from the rest of the 12-man European squad have been sparse.

The only other pair to win a match were Hatton and Shane Lowry in the fourballs and that was only clinched on the last shot on the final hole when Lowry drained a nerve-racking 10-footer at the 18th.

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