Tension builds at Ryder Cup as USA team takes the lead

HAVEN, Wisconsin – Golf is a game of decorum. Except in the Ryder cup , where a combination of pressure, patriotism, and pride routinel...


HAVEN, Wisconsin – Golf is a game of decorum.

Except in the Ryder cup, where a combination of pressure, patriotism, and pride routinely leads players to engage in dashing play, bumping into decisions, and stoking or silencing fans if that gives them an emotional edge.

However, this year’s Ryder Cup was shaping up to be an exception to the usual gloom. As the midpoint of the three-day event approached on Saturday, Team USA calmly subdued the European team, whose golfers appeared lifeless and battered. But that changed in the span of about an hour when there were four grueling episodes involving players from both teams.

Brooks Koepka defiantly and profanely challenged the decision of two rule officials who refused to give him a free drop. His US teammate Jordan Spieth and his European opponent’s younger brother Jon Rahm had a heated argument over the appropriate location for a fall after Rahm hammered a shot into Lake Michigan. Bryson DeChambeau and Shane Lowry each waved with their putters in protest after the short putts were not conceded, although DeChambeau’s putt was much longer.

Perhaps not coincidentally, what looked like an American rout suddenly turned into a tight and tense competition. After the United States won three of the four tag team matches on Saturday morning to take a six-point lead in the event, the European team came back in force in the afternoon and at one point it was seemed capable of winning three of those four matches.

But as the sun set along Lake Michigan in central Wisconsin, the Americans rallied for two wins that gave them an 11-5 lead heading into Sunday’s 12 singles matches, each worth one. point. The Americans would need to earn just three and a half points on Sunday to win the Ryder Cup for just the second time since 2008.

Steve Stricker, the US captain, smiled broadly on Saturday night as he assessed his team’s chances.

“These afternoon session games were so important. If they shut us out, they’re back, ”Stricker said of the European squad. “But getting a split and two more points was really important. Right now, it’s about resting our guys; we will go back to the hotel, eat and sleep.

Justin Thomas, the emotional leader of Team USA, would not predict victory but said: “We all have faith now.”

Sergio García, Thomas’ counterpart on the European side – at least in terms of his leadership style – was not tilted.

“Everyone knows one thing: we’ll be here until the end and we’re not going to give up,” García said of his team. “It’s going to be tough, but I assure you we’ll do our best. “

The Saturday afternoon drama was heightened by strong winds sweeping through the Whistling Strait, the course designed by Pete Dye. it’s devilish even in benign conditions. Some players donned woolen winter hats in the elements and others wore short sleeves. The game format was four-ball, in which each golfer plays their own ball and the lowest score for a team decides the outcome on a hole.

Three of the four matches were hotly contested and one was not, as the unbeaten USA side of Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa clinched a comfortable 4-3 victory over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The combination of McIlroy, who has played six Ryder Cups, and Poulter, a mainstay and spearhead of the Europeans since 2004, produced a 0-2 record. McIlroy has been on the losing side in all of his three games.

The heavyweight showdown pitted Spieth and his partner Koepka against Spanish duo García and Rahm, the world’s highest ranked player who has been spectacular in this Ryder Cup. The Rahm-García duo entered the game against Spieth and Koepka undefeated in their previous two matches. They didn’t lag in the game through 16 holes. Spieth, usually so reliable in the face of crucial putts, missed a handful of birdie or par attempts that could have snatched the lead from Rahm and García, who won, 2 and 1.

Like Rahm and García, their teammates Shane Lowry of Ireland and Tyrrell Hatton of England held the lead or were tied with Americans Tony Finau and Harris English on 17 holes. Still, with the European team’s hopes of a comeback on Sunday, Lowry had to face a 10-foot uphill putt to win the game. With a steady, rhythmic stroke, Lowry drilled the putt down the center of the hole for a 1-up victory.

Unsurprisingly, the most unpredictable and volatile match involved DeChambeau, who teamed with Scottie Scheffler against Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Norwegian Viktor Hovland. As the lead was traded, after 14 holes the game was tied – until Scheffler birdie putt 18 feet on the 15th green to give his team a one-hole advantage. This lead was then extended, with Scheffler and DeChambeau ultimately winning 3 and 1.

The Americans, who won five of eight games on Friday, put on another impressive performance in Saturday morning’s foursome games, in which players alternately hit the same golf ball on a hole. The Johnson-Morikawa team led their entire match against England’s Paul Casey and Hatton and ended up with a 2-for-1 victory. Balanced Xander Sc Chaudele and Patrick Cantlay methodically took out their rivals Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England with a series of regular starts, winning Matches 2 and 1.

Thomas and Spieth, who teamed up in a losing effort on Friday, found a more productive result when they came back from behind against Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger, who had the advantage in the opening 13 holes of the game. But the Thomas-Spieth combo won four of the last five holes to secure a two-man victory.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Tension builds at Ryder Cup as USA team takes the lead
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