Team USA Faces a Big, But Possible, Challenge in Attempt to Retain Ryder Cup

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Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Rome, Italy — September 30, 2023

Down 6 1/2 to 1 1/2 after day one, Team USA looked to make a big comeback on Saturday at the 2023 Ryder Cup. The morning session got off to a rough start when Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood went par, birdie, and par on the first three holes. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth went bogey, par, and bogey to find themselves three holes down after the same number of holes played.

The Americans finally got going, but every time they won a hole, the Europeans responded by winning the next one. A late charge from Thomas and Spieth was blunted when McIlroy and Fleetwood made par on the 17th, and Team USA made bogey.

McIlroy and Fleetwood (EUR) defeated Thomas and Spieth (USA) 2 and 1

Team Score: EUR 7 1/2 vs. USA 1 1/2

Match two of day two was even worse. Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg won the first four holes. The teams tied the fifth hole. Europe won the sixth hole, and another tie was recorded on the seventh. Four more holes won in a row went to the Europeans. Team USA, with Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka playing, never won a hole and lost by the largest ever in a Ryder Cup match.

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg celebrate their trouncing of Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka / Photo Credit
Hovland and Aberg (EUR) defeated Scheffler and Koepka (USA) 9 and 7

Team Score: EUR 8 1/2 vs. USA 1 1/2

The Americans finally salvaged a shred of dignity in the third match of the morning. Max Homa and Brian Harman were tied with Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka after nine holes. Team USA took the next three holes and closed the match out with an eagle on the short par four, 16th hole.

Homa and Harman (USA) defeated Lowry and Straka (EUR) 4 and 2

Team Score: EUR 8 1/2 vs. USA 2 1/2

Team USA’s Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay faced Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton in the final match of the morning session. The outcome was in doubt until late in what was arguably the best match of the event so far. The Europeans led 4-1 after 11 holes. Schauffele and Cantlay won the next three to tie the match with four holes to play. With a chance to even up the morning session, the Americans could not get it done. Birdies on 16 and 17 by Rahm and Hatton shut the rally down.

Rahm and Hatton (EUR) defeated Schauffele and Cantlay (USA) 2 and 1

Team Score: EUR 9 1/2 vs. USA 2 1/2

Afternoon Session

Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa got the Americans moving, winning two of the first three holes in match one of the afternoon session. They extended the lead to 7-1 over Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg after 12 holes. Team USA had to take a collective nervous breath as Aberg made birdies on 13 and 14 to extend the match. Pars all around on the 15th closed it out with Burns and Molikawa taking the win.

Burns and Molikawa (USA) defeated Hovland and Aberg (EUR) 4 and 3

Team Score: EUR 9 1/2 vs. USA 3 1/2

Max Homa and Brian Harman crafted a similar script in Saturday afternoon’s match two, up 5-1 after the 12th. Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard made it interesting with wins on 14 and 16. But in the end, the lead was too big. Pars by Fleetwood and Homa on the par three, 17th ended the comeback.

Homa and Brian (USA) defeated Fleetwood and Hojgaard (EUR) 2 and 1

Team Score: EUR 9 1/2 vs. USA 4 1/2

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth continued Team USA’s hopes for an afternoon sweep when they took a 2-1 lead with a Thomas birdie on the par three, seventh. But, it was not to be as Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre won four holes over the next eight played and posted a 3 and 2 win.

Rose and MacIntyre (EUR) defeated Thomas and Spieth (USA) 3 and 2

Team Score: EUR 10 1/2 vs. USA 4 1/2

The tightest match of the first two days closed out Saturday’s play. Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy faced Patrick Cantalay and Will Clark. McIlroy opened the scoring with a birdie on the par three, fourth hole. The next six holes were halved, then Cantlay drew Team USA even with a birdie on the 11th. It looked like the Europeans would eke out an afternoon split when McIlroy made birdie on the 14th. Cantalay put the American hopes on his shoulders and closed with birdies for wins on 17 and 18. The 1-up win brought Team USA within five heading into Sunday’s singles matches.

Patrick Cantlay Celebrates his Match Victory to Keep Team USA within reach, heading to Sunday’s Singles Matches. / Photo Credit Getty Images.

Cantalay and Clark (USA) defeated McIlroy and Fitzpatrick 1-Up

Team Score: EUR 10 1/2 vs. USA 5 1/2

Sunday’s Pairings

For the United States to retain the Ryder Cup, they must win eight matches and tie one of the 12 games scheduled for Sunday. Not much room for error. A fast start is a must to put some pressure on the European squad. (All tee times listed are Eastern time zone.)

MATCH EUROPE TIME U.S.
1 Jon Rahm 5:35 a.m. Scottie Scheffler
2 Viktor Hovland 5:47 a.m. Collin Morikawa
3 Justin Rose 5:59 a.m. Patrick Cantlay
4 Rory McIlroy 6:11 a.m. Sam Burns
5 Matt Fitzpatrick 6:23 a.m. Max Homa
6 Tyrrell Hatton 6:35 a.m. Brian Harman
7 Ludvig Aberg 6:47 a.m. Brooks Koepka
8 Sepp Straka 6:59 a.m. Justin Thomas
9 Nicolai Hojgaard 7:11 a.m. Xander Schauffele
10 Shane Lowry 7:23 a.m. Jordan Spieth
11 Tommy Fleetwood 7:35 a.m. Rickie Fowler
12 Robert MacIntyre 7:47 a.m. Wyndham Clark