Heaven, Wisconsin — Golf is a game of etiquette.
With the exception of the Ryder Cup, the combination of pressure, patriotism, and pride causes players to engage in hilarious gamemanship on a daily basis, clash over decisions, and offend fans if they give them an emotional advantage. , I will shut it up.
But this year’s Ryder Cup was shaped to be an exception to the usual moody. As the midpoint of the three-day event approached on Saturday, the American team calmed down and overwhelmed the European side. European golfers seemed dead and beaten. But when there were four bitter episodes involving players from both teams, it changed with a stretch of about an hour.
Brooks Koepka rebelliously and profanely challenged the decisions of two rule officials who refused to give him a free drop. His American teammate Jordan Spieth and his European opponent Jon Rahm’s caddy have a lively quarrel over the right place to drop after Rahm hits a shot into Lake Michigan. Did. Bryson DeChambeau and Shane Lowry each made a gesture with a putter after DeChambeau’s putt was much longer, but no short putt was allowed.
It’s not a coincidence, but what looked like an American rout suddenly turned into a tight and tense contest. After the United States won three out of four games on Saturday morning and scored a six-point lead at the event, the European team swooped in the afternoon and at some point seemed to be able to win three out of four games. I did.
However, as the sun set along Lake Michigan in central Wisconsin, the Americans won two wins, taking an 11-5 lead for Sunday’s 12 singles matches. This is worth 1 point each. Americans need to score just 3.5 points on Sunday to win their second Ryder Cup since 2008.
American captain Steve Stricker laughed loudly on Saturday night, appreciating the team’s chances.
“The match in the afternoon session was very important. If they left us blank, they would be back soon,” Stricker said of the European team. “But it was really big to get split and two more points. For now, it’s giving us a little rest. Go back to the hotel, eat and go to bed.”
Justin Thomas, the emotional leader of the US team, didn’t predict the victory, but said, “We all have faith now.”
Sergio García, Thomas’ European counterpart, did not bow, at least in terms of his leadership style.
“There’s one thing everyone knows. We’re there to the end and we’re not going to give up,” Garcia said of his team. “It will be difficult, but we guarantee you will do your best.”
The Saturday afternoon drama was reinforced by strong winds across Whistling Straits, a course designed by the demonic Pete Dye, even in calm conditions. Some players wore woolen winter caps on the elements, while others had short sleeves. The format of the match is four balls, where each golfer plays his own ball and the team’s low score determines the outcome on the hole.
Three of the four games were fiercely contested as Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa’s undefeated American team won a comfortable 4-3 victory over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The combination of McIlroy, who played in the six Ryder Cups, and Paulter, who has established a solid European position since 2004, set a 0-2 record. McIlroy is on the losing side of each of his three games.
The heavyweight showdown took place between Spieth and his partner Koepka and the Spanish pair of world-class players Garcia and Ram, who were spectacular in the Ryder Cup. The pairing of Ram and Garcia participated in the undefeated match between Spieth and Koepka in the previous two matches. They didn’t drag into the match through the 16 holes. Spieth is usually very reliable when faced with a significant putt and misses some easy-to-make birdie or par attempts that could take the lead from Ram and Garcia who won 2 and 1. Did.
Like Ram and Garcia, their teammates Shane Lowry of Ireland and Tyrrell Hatton of England took the lead, or tied with Americans Tony Finau and Harris English on the 17th hole. Still, the European team’s desire to make a comeback on Sunday was largely unbalanced, so Raleigh faced a 10-foot uphill par putt to win the match. With a stable rhythmic stroke, Raleigh drilled a putt in the center of the hole for a one-up victory.
Not surprisingly, the most unpredictable and volatile match involved DeChambeau, who teamed up with Scottie Scheffler against Tommy Fleetwood of England and Viktor Hovland of Norway. After 14 holes, the match ended in a draw while the leads were swapped back and forth — until Schaeffler sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the 15th green to give the team a one-hole edge. The lead was later extended, with Schaeffler and DeChambeau finally winning 3 and 1.
The American, who won five out of eight games on Friday, showed another commanding performance in a foursome match on Saturday morning, where players alternately hit the same golf ball in the hole. The Johnson-Morikawa team led the entire match between British Paul Casey and Hatton, with a final 2-1 victory. Calm Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay won matches 2 and 1 by systematically eliminating England’s Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick with a series of stable pars.
Thomas and Spieth, who teamed up on Friday’s losing efforts, reunited with more productive results when they came from behind against Hobland and Berndwisberger, who had the upper hand in the first 13 holes of the match. .. However, the Thomas-Spieth combo won four of the last five holes, a two-up victory.