GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) — Europe is in a commanding position to win the Ryder Cup and reclaim the 17-inch gold trophy.
The Europeans led 10 1/2-5 1/2 after two days, but Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark won a feisty final fourballs match on Saturday to give the U.S. a glimmer of hope entering Sunday’s 12 singles matches at Marco Simone in the first Ryder Cup to be held in Italy.
Four more points will clinch it for Europe.
The Americans have not won on European soil in 30 years. This was supposed to be their best chance to end that drought, coming off a 19-9 mauling of Europe in 2021 at Whistling Straits, but the Europeans have had other ideas.
The Ryder Cup, which started as a friendly exhibition nearly 100 years ago, has become the biggest spectacle in golf, held once every two years. Seth Waugh, the CEO at the PGA of America, referred to the Ryder Cup as a “combination of the Olympics and the Super Bowl and a (Rolling) Stones concert.”
While the United States has a 27-14-2 lead in the series dating to 1927, Europe has a 11-9-1 edge going back to 1979 when continental Europe was invited to join players from Britain and Ireland.
WHERE IS THE RYDER CUP TAKING PLACE?
It is being staged at the Marco Simone club outside Rome.
This is only the third Ryder Cup to be held in continental Europe since European players were invited to play in 1979. The others were at Valderrama in Spain in 1997 and Le Golf National in France in 2018.
FORMAT AND SCHEDULE
The teams played four matches of fourballs (better ball) and four matches of foursomes (alternate shot) on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, there are 12 singles matches.
The Americans, as the defending champion, need 14 points to retain the cup. It’s a stiff ask.
The first match out on Sunday is a heavyweight duel between Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm. Both were rested for the Saturday afternoon fourballs.
Then it’s Patrick Cantlay vs. Justin Rose; Sam Burns vs. Rory McIlroy; Max Homa vs. Matt Fitzpatrick; Brian Harman vs. Tyrrell Hatton; Brooks Koepka vs. Ludvig Aberg; Justin Thomas vs. Sepp Straka; Xander Schauffele vs. Nicolai Hojgaard; Jordan Spieth vs. Shane Lowry; Rickie Fowler vs. Tommy Fleetwood; and Wyndham Clark vs. Robert MacIntyre.
HOW TO WATCH
For the Sunday singles, NBC Universal will start coverage at 5:30 a.m. until its conclusion, expected to be around 1 p.m.
In Europe, Sky Sports will have coverage from the start to the end of the matches each day.
TEAM USA VS. TEAM EUROPE
Zach Johnson is the U.S. captain. The Americans return seven players from the 2021 team that handed Europe its worst loss — Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. The four Ryder Cup rookies are U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Max Homa and Sam Burns. Rickie Fowler rounds out the team. He’s playing for the first time since 2018. Koepka is the only player from LIV Golf on the team, one of the six captain’s picks after just missing out on automatic qualifying.
Luke Donald is the European captain. Henrik Stenson was the original choice but was dismissed as captain when he joined LIV Golf. Europe is in a rebuilding year but still has a strong core of experience — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry. The four Ryder Cup rookies are Robert MacIntyre, Sepp Straka, Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg, who turned pro only in June. The LIV effect is strong. Missing from the European team room are Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. Europe has always leaned on its heritage.
Nearly half the players at Marco Simone — five Americans and six Europeans — were not even born the last time the Americans won the Ryder Cup in Europe.
That was in 1993 at The Belfry in England. The winning putt came from a Ryder Cup rookie, Davis Love III, who now is a 59-year-old vice captain for the U.S.
Since then, the Americans have lost in Spain, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and France.
FanDuel Sportsbook had Team USA as a slight favorite (-120) over Europe (+102). Even though the U.S. hasn’t won away from home since 1993, it is coming off a 19-9 victory, its widest margin ever against Europe.
That changed in a hurry.
After Europe stormed out to a 6 1/2-1 1/2 lead — the Americans failed to win a single match for the first time on opening day — and retained its five-point lead after Day 2, Europe is now favored (-3500) over the Americans (+1700).
How well do you know Ryder Cup history? Try this trivia quiz of 28 questions, one question for each point available.
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