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Team Europe Ryder Cup WITB

Europe on the brink as history beckons for Bjorn’s men

Europe enjoyed another excellent day at the Ryder Cup and are favourites to regain the trophy on Sunday. Keel Timmins wraps up the action
 

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari became the first-ever European pairing to win the opening four matches in Ryder Cup history, as Europe take a commanding 10-6 lead into the Sunday singles matches.

The Anglo-Italian duo brushed off Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed in the morning fourballs – which Europe won 3-1 – before teaming up to demolish Woods again in the afternoon foursomes, this time alongside rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

But Saturday’s 5-3 score-line – which has Europe on the verge of bringing back the trophy – was far from just a result of Fleetwood and Molinari’s excellent play.

Many were expecting a big reaction from the USA after Furyk’s side were whitewashed on Friday afternoon, but Europe continued where they left off with Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia surviving a late scare to defeat Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau 2&1.

Minutes later, Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton took down Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler 3&2, and the blue points kept on coming as Molinari and Fleetwood strolled to a comfortable 4&3 victory over Woods and Reed.

Furyk’s team were reliant on the last pairing out, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, to salvage a point from the opening session, and they delivered when Thomas rolled in a vital birdie on the 17th to close out Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm 2&1.

Going into the afternoon session, Europe were heavy favourites to go on and win the cup, but the USA came out the blocks quickly – perhaps spurred on by Thomas and Spieth.

Johnson and Koepka took an early lead over Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, as did Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson in their match against Garcia and Alex Noren.

But Fleetwood and Molinari had other ideas, halting the USA momentum as they raced into a five-up lead after nine holes over Woods and DeChambeau, where they would eventually close the match out on the 14th by 5&4.

Rose and Stenson then turned their match around, winning three holes in seven on their way to a 2&1 victory as they fended off a late fight-back from Johnson and Koepka.

But Furyk will be pleased with the fight shown in the other two matches, as Watson and Simpson defeated Garcia and Noren on the 16th, while Thomas and Spieth were excellent again as they beat Poulter and McIlroy with three holes to spare.

Despite that, this was very much Europe’s day. However, the USA will take heart from the fact that this was the very same scoreline from which Europe produced perhaps the best Ryder Cup comeback in history at Medinah six years ago, as did the USA in 1999 on home-soil at Brookline.

Still, thanks to Molinari and Fleetwood, it’s a case of Europe on the brink.

Saturday morning fourballs

Garcia/McIlroy def. Finau/Koepka 2&1

Casey/Hatton def. Johnson/Fowler 3&2

Molinari/Fleetwood def Woods/Reed 4&3

Thomas/Spieth def. Poulter/Rahm 2&1

Saturday afternoon foursomes

Stenson/Rose def. Johnson/Koepka 2&1

Watson/Simpson def. Garcia/Noren 3&2

Molinari/Fleetwood def. Woods/DeChambeau 5&4

Thomas/Spieth def. Poulter/McIlroy 4&3

Fourballs highlights

Foursomes highlights

Best quote

Betting update

There isn’t much scope for betting opportunities on the final day, with Europe in command and the USA highly unlikely to mount a comeback on a golf course that is incredibly unsuited to Furyk’s players.

However, there are a few singles matches that I would like to take on.

We started the week with the bet on Mickelson to not pick up a point, and that’s looking very good now as Lefty has been drawn up against Molinari. Mickelson cannot hit a fairway, while the Italian has been a revelation – expect him to finish his Ryder Cup with a bang.

Reed put in a pitiful performance on Saturday, and he’ll finish his Ryder Cup against the rookie, Hatton. In usual Ryder Cup circumstances, Reed would be well-fancied, but he’s been in awful form, the course doesn’t suit him, and he’s been placed at the trail-end of the lineup meaning he won’t be able to have an effect on the whole team’s performance. Hatton is the bet here.

Put these two into a treble with Spieth, who plays his singles match against rookie Olesen. The Dane didn’t feature at all on Saturday and his usual erratic driving should lead to a loss against Spieth, who has found form with partner Thomas.

The treble pays just over 9/2.

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Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin

Tom is a lifetime golfer, now over 30 years playing the game. 2023 marks 10 years in golf publishing and he is still holding down a + handicap at Alwoodley in Leeds. He has played over 600 golf courses, and has been a member of at least four including his first love Louth, in Lincolnshire. Tom likes unbranded clothing, natural fibres, and pencil bags. Seacroft in Lincolnshire is where it starts and ends.

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