After day two of the 43rd Ryder Cup, the US team is in an enviable position.
Following a dominant Friday, they won three of Saturday’s foursomes, extending their lead to 9-3, the largest lead for either side after three sessions of the Ryder Cup since the US led by 7 points in 1975.
Later in Saturday afternoon’s fourballs, the Europeans fought back with some gritty golf.
Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia beat Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth, while Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton just edged Tony Finau and Harris English to give the Europeans some hope.
However, the US team won the other two fourball matches, with Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa dominating Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy, while a late flurry of birdies from Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau were enough to edge past Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland.
Johnson, the two-time major winner, proved his class throughout, becoming the first American player to win a match in each of the first four sessions of the Ryder Cup since Larry Nelson in 1979.
While the spirit and fight the European golfers showed in the afternoon session would have given hope to those watching back home, the Americans enter the final day with a nearly insurmountable lead.
With just 12 singles matches to come on Sunday and the US team needing just three and a half points to reclaim the Ryder Cup, the Europeans will need a miracle.
The excitement of the Ryder Cup
Heading into the second day of action, the reigning champions had it all to do, trailing the American team 6-2.
And although Europe captain Padraig Harrington stressed a fast start was needed by his team, it was US captain Steve Stricker’s men who took charge early.
World No. 1 Rahm and Garcia picked up Europe’s only point of the morning session, beating Koepka and Daniel Berger 3&1.
The scoreboard was predominately red from there, with a clean sweep of US victories in the other three foursome matches.
Johnson and Morikawa beat Paul Casey and Hatton 2&1, Justin Thomas and Spieth edged Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger and Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
That left the US with a six-point advantage heading into the final session of Saturday, and with things looking ominous for the Europeans.
But soon after the foursome session began, it became clear whatever Harrington said in the break had the desired effect on his players.
Shane Lowry played like a man inspired, getting three birdies in the opening three holes while the Spanish pairing of Rahm and Garcia – who have been so productive for Team Europe – rushed out to a three-shot lead over Koepka and Spieth.
In both matches, the US duo worked their way back slowly, but in the end, the Europeans were just able to hold out, gaining vital points.
In the third pairing of the afternoon’s foursomes, the advantange swung between the two sides, of Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau of the US and Tommy Fleetwood and Hovland of Europe.
Between the big-hitting of DeChambeau and the accuracy of Hovland, fans were entertained throughout. A late run of birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes put the Americans in front.
The final match was almost a formality from outset, as Johnson and Morikawa – two of the best golfers in the world at the moment – looked vastly superior to Poulter and McIlroy, winning 4&3.