Ryder Cup: Shane Lowry shines for Europe but USA stand on the brink of victory

Fourball session is split 2-2 leaving the US with a commanding 11-5 lead before singles

Shane Lowry (with his father Brendan in the background) celebrates his putt on the 18th green to win his match with Tyrrell Hatton at the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Shane Lowry (with his father Brendan in the background) celebrates his putt on the 18th green to win his match with Tyrrell Hatton at the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

 

USA 11 Europe 5

Park the fact that Europe will need more than a miracle if they are to retain the Ryder Cup. For a moment, just wallow in the performance of Shane Lowry who signaled just why team sport is in his very DNA and why making and playing in the match meant so much to him.

The reason why was evident on the 18th green of Saturday’s fourballs where - in tandem with Tyrrell Hatton - he conjured up some breathtaking moments, among them six birdies, and yet it was a balls-of-steel par save on the last to defeat Harris English and Tony Finau that demonstrated the fire that lies within his belly.

Lowry celebrates his winning putt. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA
Lowry celebrates his winning putt. Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA

A poor drive on the hole known as Dye-abolical for its gargantuan challenge left him with no option other than to splash out from a sandy waste area. It was what followed, though, that spoke volumes for Lowry’s character and competitiveness as he hit a long iron approach in to 12 feet and sank the par putt to keep their one hole advantage and secure a desperately needed win.

In truth, the task ahead is another gargantuan one: Europe shared the fourballs 2-2 but when the numbers were added up, it left the USA in a position of strength, carrying an unheard of 11-5 lead into the final day’s 12 singles. Europe would need to win nine points (against a team with eight players from the world’s top-10) to retain the trophy.

On Saturday, Lowry and Hatton’s win was augmented by another from the Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and world number one Jon Rham who have been incomparable. The Garcia-Rahm combination remained unbeaten, beating Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth by 2 and 1.

Jon Rahm his birdie on the 16th. Photo: Anthony Behar/PA Wire
Jon Rahm his birdie on the 16th. Photo: Anthony Behar/PA Wire

For a time, it looked as if some other blue would materialise but, ultimately, the USA took the bottom two matches: Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau beat Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland 3 and1; while Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa were 4 and 3 winners over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

A third loss in three matches only served to highlight McIlroy’s poor play. Remarkably, he went through two fourballs without managing a single birdie (he did have one eagle on Friday) and his body language spoke volumes for how out-of-sorts he had been for two days.

In contrast, Lowry was fired-up and delivered in spades. For much of the front nine - where he started birdie-birdie-birdie and added further birdies at the sixth, 10th and 16th - Lowry was very much the strong man of the partnership but his deeds seemed to inspire Hatton who contributed hugely on the homeward run before sealing an emotional win on the finishing hole.

McIlroy and Poulter were soundly beaten by Morikawa and Johnson. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
McIlroy and Poulter were soundly beaten by Morikawa and Johnson. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

“I felt like it was a great opportunity to do something. When you’re in a great frame of mind, that’s the stuff you think about when you’re over putts like that. It was great fun. I would enjoy it. But obviously we look like we’re probably going to halve the session or not as many points as we would like,” said Lowry, adding:

“But we’re still not out of it. It’s a long day tomorrow, 12 matches. If any 12 of us were going out against any of them in the match play, we would fancy our chances. We just have to believe. It’s all about believing.

“I read a quote last night, I was looking at stuff on my phone, and for some reason it popped up, and it was like if you’ve got a 1 per cent chance, you have to have 100 per cent faith. And I just think that we really need to live by that tonight and tomorrow and go out and give it our best.”

That he certainly did.

Now, how about another miracle akin to Medinah?

Friday results – Morning foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth lost to Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia 3 and 1

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa beat Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland 3 and 2

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele beat Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5 and 3

Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick lost to 2 and 1

USA 3 Europe 1

Afternoon fourballs

Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele beat Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger 2 and 1

Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler halved with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton

Tony Finau and Harris English bt Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry 5 and 3

Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay halved with Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland

USA 3 Europe 1

Saturday results – Morning foursomes

Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger lost to Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm 3 and 1

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa bt Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton 2 and 1

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth bt Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger 2up

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay bt Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick 2 and 1

USA 3 Europe 1

Afternoon fourballs

Tony Finau and Harris English lost to Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton 1up

Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth lost to Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia 2 and 1

Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau bt Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland 3 and 1

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa bt Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy 4 and 3

USA 2 Europe 2

Overall score: USA 11 Europe 5

Sunday's singles pairings (all times Irish)
5.04 Rory McIlroy v Xander Schauffele
5.15 Shane Lowry v Patrick Cantlay
5.26 Jon Rahm v Scottie Scheffler
5.37 Sergio Garcia v Bryson DeChambeau
5.48 Viktor Hovland v Collin Morikawa
5.59 Paul Casey v Dustin Johnson
6.10 Bernd Wiesberger v Brooks Koepka
6.21 Ian Poulter v Tony Finau
6.32 Tyrrell Hatton v Justin Thomas
6.43 Lee Westwood v Harris English
6.54 Tommy Fleetwood v Jordan Spieth
7.05 Matt Fitzpatrick v Daniel Berger 

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