SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- The United States entered the second day at the Ryder Cup with a nice lead. On Saturday, it increased it and now the Americans head into Sunday with a six-point lead over Europe at Whistling Straits.
The biggest last-day comeback? Four points. So Europe would have to make history to keep the Ryder Cup.
Nobody panic. This is fine.— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 25, 2021
Here is how the U.S. built its big lead:
SCORE: UNITED STATES 11, EUROPE 5
Saturday afternoon session: Four-ball
Tyrrell Hatton/Shane Lowry def. Harris English/Tony Finau 1 up
How it happened: The U.S. team trailed for all but the first two holes -- but never by more than two holes. Lowry, an Irishman, seemed right at home in the blustery conditions. He made four birdies in the first six holes to give the Europeans a 1-up lead. The lead was extended to 2 up on Hatton's 11-foot birdie on the par-4 11th. English and Finau went into the par-4 18th hole trailing by one and looked to be in trouble when both of their tee shots went way right. But English pulled off perhaps his best shot of the round, when he somehow reached the back fringe of the green from 226 yards. That led to par. Hatton's tee shot was in the fairway, but then he yanked his second shot into a greenside bunker. He failed to get up and down. Lowry's tee shot found a bunker and he had to punch out, but then he drained an 11-foot par putt to win the match and keep alive the Europeans' hopes of coming back.
Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia def. Brooks Koepka/Jordan Spieth 2 and 1
How it happened: The Spanish duo continued to take down everyone in its path for a third victory together in as many tries. Koepka and Spieth never led the match and trailed by as many as three holes after Rahm's 27-foot birdie at the seventh. The U.S. team tied the match on Koepka's birdie on the 13th hole, but that was as close as it would get. Rahm played like the No. 1 player in the world down the stretch; his birdies on the 15th and 16th holes extended the Europeans' lead to 2 up with two holes to play. Spieth struggled with his putter for much of the match and missed several attempts inside 10 feet.
How it happened: After losing a one-hole lead on the 18th hole of Friday's four-ball match, DeChambeau and Scheffler weren't taking any chances on Saturday. The U.S. team trailed the match by one after 13 holes, but DeChambeau sank a 7-foot birdie to tie the match on the 14th. Then Scheffler, another Ryder Cup rookie, took over and made back-to-back birdies for a 2-up lead. After making a 16-footer on the 15th hole, Scheffler typically even-keeled, pumped his fist and chest-bumped DeChambeau -- and didn't even fall down. DeChambeau birdied the par-3 17th to close out the match.
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa def. Ian Poulter/Rory McIlroy 4 and 3
How it happened: As expected, the U.S. team of Johnson, the No. 2 player in the world, and Morikawa, the No. 3 player, had an easy time dispatching the European veterans. The Americans won all three of their matches playing together this week. DJ had three birdies with one bogey in 15 holes. After going 7-9 in his previous four Ryder Cup appearances, Johnson is now 4-0 heading into Sunday's singles matches. Morikawa, a Ryder Cup rookie, already has won three points. He had an eagle on the par-4 sixth hole -- driving the green from 335 yards -- to go with four birdies and no bogeys. McIlroy's disappointing week continued as he failed to make a birdie for the second straight four-ball match (he did have an eagle on Friday). He is 0-3 this week, his worst performance at a Ryder Cup (he went 2-3 in his 2018 matches in Paris).
Saturday morning session: Foursomes
Sergio Garcia/Jon Rahm def. Daniel Berger/Brooks Koepka 3 and 1
How it happened: The Spanish duo gave the European team much-needed momentum by knocking off the former Florida State teammates. The Americans had a 3-up lead after only three holes, but the Spaniards rallied to tie the match when Garcia chipped in front from 41 feet on the ninth hole. The Europeans took a 1-up lead on Garcia's 8-foot birdie putt on No. 12 and extended it to 2 up when the U.S. team bogeyed the next hole. After the Americans cut the lead to 1 up on No. 14, there was much controversy on the next hole. Koepka spent several minutes unsuccessfully lobbying for relief from two rules officials. Koepka's ball was lying in native grass between bunkers, and he was worried he might reinjure his left wrist if his club hit a drain that was in front of his ball. Rules officials denied him relief, but he was still able to knock his ball onto the green. The Spaniards extended their lead to 2 up on No. 16 after Garcia hit his second shot 244 yards to 5 feet of the pin, and Rahm sank the eagle putt.
Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa def. Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton 2 and 1
How it happened: Johnson's spectacular play continued, as he and Morikawa, the reigning winner of The Open, won a foursomes match for the second consecutive day. Like Kopeka and Berger, DJ and Morikawa had a 3-up lead after only three holes. Unlike Koepka and Berger, Johnson and Morikawa didn't squander it. The Europeans did cut their 4-down deficit to just one hole when Casey knocked in a wedge shot from 105 yards for an eagle on the par-4 14th hole. But then Hatton missed a 5-foot par putt on the next hole. The teams traded pars on the next two holes for a U.S. win. Johnson improved to 3-0 at the Ryder Cup.
How it happened: After being the only American team to lose on the first day, Spieth and Thomas were in trouble early on Saturday. The Europeans were 3 up on Spieth and Thomas after six holes. But then the Americans took advantage of the Europeans' poor play to rally, cutting the deficit to just one after Hovland and Wiesberger carded bogeys on Nos. 7 and 9. The Europeans were 1 up after 13 holes, but back-to-back bogeys gave the Americans a 1-up lead. On the 16th hole, Thomas hit his second shot onto the green from 240 yards and Spieth made an 8-footer for eagle to make it 2 up. The Europeans were 1 down heading into No. 18, but Weisberger's second shot went into the water.
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele def. Lee Westwood/Matt Fitzpatrick 2 and 1
How it happened: The match was competitive and went back and forth until the back nine, where the Europeans' mistakes helped give the Americans a lead. After Cantlay and Schauffele went 1 up on Cantlay's 23-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole, Fitzpatrick and Westwood had bogeys on the next two holes to go 3 down. They never got closer than 2 down the rest of the way. The Americans carded four birdies, one bogey and somehow took a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 third hole. Cantlay and Schauffele, two California natives and close friends, are now 4-0 in international competition. They went 2-0 at the President's Cup in Australia in 2019 and they're 2-0 at Whistling Straits. Schauffele has already earned three points this week.