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Americans down but not completely out in Paris

the massive crowd around the 16th green on Saturday (Photo: Getty Images Stuart Franklin)
The maths are simple. In order for the USA side to retain the Ryder Cup they must find a way to earn eight of the 12 points available in tomorrow’s final day singles at Le Golf National but given what we have seen on days one and two that may well be mission impossible.

All is not completely lost, admittedly, as such deficits heading into the singles have been overcome previously but the seemingly deflated American side will need to dig very deep in order to do so as they have given little indication of being near to coming to terms with Le Golf National and a European side which appears to be firing on all cylinders. 

The Europeans extended their day one lead of two to four when they completed a 3-1 win in Saturday morning’s four-ball encounters and then maintained that advantage by sharing the honours with the Americans in Saturday afternoon’s foursome matches for the overall score to be 10-6 in favour of the home side.

The USA needed to claim back, in the morning four-ball match-ups, some of the territory lost on Friday but only Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were able to avoid a consecutive whitewash for the USA when they held on to defeat Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm in a crucial final morning match and Europe headed into the afternoon foursomes four ahead.

In the afternoon Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, who had been soundly beaten by Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy in yesterday afternoon’s foursomes, found a way to bounce back with a comfortable 3&2 victory over Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren in the alternate shot format and when Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth again combined to snatch another point for the USA they had kept alive, at least, a remote hope for Sunday.

While the prospect of a such a turnaround tomorrow is not totally out of the question and that the dynamic of the singles format allows the Americans to return to a format they are more familiar and comfortable with, the USA side has struggled to come to terms with the Le Golf National layout.

If they were to secure the eight points they need to share honours and retain the trophy it may well be considered one of the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history.

It has been done before, admittedly, but even in those circumstances, at Brookline in 1999 where the Americans overturned such a deficit, and in 2012 at Medinah Country Club in Illinois where the Europeans did the same the respective sides appeared not as lost as the Americans do this week.

European captain Thomas Bjorn is fully aware of just what is still possible having been involved as an assistant captain at Medinah and is not about to let any complacency set in.  

“We've got to take all that in, and you look at Brookline, Medinah, plenty of examples of these score lines not meaning a lot until you get to singles. Just keep going. Keep going hard, keep going with what we've got, and you know, I've seen too many times what the singles does.

“It's a completely different game tomorrow and that makes for a lot of refocusing and getting back into that team room and recover. We used a lot of energy these days. We go again tomorrow. Try and focus on what's ahead.

“We need every single man on the golf course to do their bit, and we've got to get out there and really, really, really play hard and be determined to win this back. When you look at those 12 American names, that's a strong lineup. So it can go any way, but really, really, really happy with how it's gone these first two days.”

US captain Jim Furyk is also aware of what Ryder Cup Sunday can potentially bring having been on both sides in 1999 and 2012 and having experienced both the joy and shattering impact of such a turnaround.

“It sure sucked being on the other side, I will say that,” he said this afternoon. “That was one of the worst days of my career. I remember it probably even better, to be honest with you.

“The feeling of the momentum switching; the feeling of hearing the European crowd, and knowing, looking up on the board and seeing blue, it's a tough feeling to stomach. It reminded me very much of '99, and unfortunately I lost the 17th and 18th hole to Sergio, and my match was one of the key ones. I remember it very well. It's probably in my list of top three worst nightmares in golf.”

“You know, I don't know if there is any one match more important than the other," he added referring to his starting line-up for the singles. You've got 12 of them out there, and we have to win eight points tomorrow to take the Cup back home.

“So we have 12 important matches tomorrow, but you'd like to get off to that fast start like you saw at Brookline, like you saw at Medinah, and when that momentum gets going one way, it puts a lot of pressure on those middle matches. We set up our lineup accordingly and put the guys out in the fashion that we felt like, you know, we're trying to make some magic tomorrow."

Scores and Sunday's match -ups

 

SIGNATURE HOLES: 5TH AT NORTHBRIDGE(NSW)

        

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