For the 12th time in the last 20 Ryder Cups, Europe will head into Sunday's singles session with the lead. After a historic first day, the competition evened out on Saturday with the United States rebounding the split the eight matches 4 to 4 as homestanding Europe maintained its margin with a significant 10.5 to 5.5 lead.
Only 12 matches remain Sunday with four points separating Europe from reclaiming the Ryder Cup and continuing its three-decade streak of victories on its home soil.
Saturday started much like Friday as the U.S. was slow out the gate. Getting trounced in morning foursomes to 3 to 1, the Americans were in disarray low-lighted by their formidable duo of Scottie Scheffler & Brooks Koepka falling 9&7 to the Scandinavian super team of Viktor Hovland & Ludvig Aberg. The margin of defeat was the largest in Ryder Cup history in the foursomes format.
Europe continued to apply pressure taking out seasoned partnerships one-by-one. Rory McIlroy & Tommy Fleetwood disarmed Justin Thomas & Jordan Spieth in the opener before Jon Rahm & Tyrrell Hatton brushed Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele aside.
The lone bright spot from the morning came courtesy of Max Homa & Brian Harman, who secured the American's first match win over Sepp Straka & Shane Lowry. This unlikely duo tried their best to galvanize the visiting side, which ultimately came late in the form of a Patrick Cantlay charge.
After Collin Morikawa & Sam Burns won the opening match of the afternoon four-ball session for the Americans, Homa & Harman snagged their second full point in a doozy against Tommy Fleetwood & Nicolai Hojgaard.
Then Cantlay stepped to the plate. Heckled by the European crowd for not wearing a hat amid false rumors of a protest, Cantlay rattled off three straight birdies across the final three holes of the anchor match against Rory McIlroy & Matt Fitzpatrick to not only take a European flag off the board but to put an American flag on it.
"Energy has to be up," said Morikawa. "We know there's going to be 12 points [Sunday]. We're still going to have a chance. There's always a chance. Obviously, it's going to be tough and it's an uphill battle. But look, each one of us has to deal with what we have in front of us, and that's going to be our plan [Sunday], and it's find a way to put a lot of red on the board."
The energy is officially up for the visitors after Cantlay's heroics, but is it too little too late? The largest Sunday comeback remains four points in this current format as U.S. won at The Country Club after trailing 10 to 6. The Europeans accomplished the same at Medinah in 2012. History may not be on the Americans' side, but momentum has certainly ratcheted up.
2023 Ryder Cup results: Day 2
Europe 10.5 | United States 5.5
Session 3 -- Foursomes
Thomas & Spieth
McIlroy & Fleetwood
Scheffler & Koepka
Hovland & Aberg
Homa & Harman
Lowry & Straka
Cantlay & Schauffele
Rahm & Hatton
Match 9 -- McIlroy & Fleetwood 2&1 over Thomas & Spieth: The U.S. hoped to get out of the blocks fast, but that simply did not happen. Europe won the first three holes and held this edge with 12 holes to play. Thomas & Spieth battled back with an eagle on 12 to tie that hole before making birdie on No. 13 and par on No. 14 for two straight wins. This cut the lead to one where it would stand heading into the 17th. Thomas flared his tee shot right into the thickest of rough where the Americans could only muster a bogey. McIlroy converted a nice par save for another European point.
Match 10 -- Hovland & Aberg 9&7 over Scheffler & Koepka: This match lasted a shade over two hours as the Americans looked completely lost. They turned in 40 and couldn't do anything right. To the Scandinavians' credit, they played sound golf, and this resulted in the biggest victory in Ryder Cup foursomes history.
Match 11 -- Homa & Harman 4&2 over Lowry & Straka: The lone bright spot of the early proceedings were been the U.S. rookies. Homa & Harman made amends after losing Friday morning and took it to Lowry & Straka. There was a seven-hole stretch these two played in 7 under. Homa put a stylish bow on the American's first match victory of the competition.
Match 12 -- Rahm & Hatton 2&1 over Cantlay & Schauffele: The anchor match looked to be a blowout early, but Cantlay & Schauffele hung tough. Rahm & Hatton garnered a 3 UP lead around the turn before the Americans won three straight holes. They went to the final three holes all tied up before Schauffele's putter fell short. The American was tasked with following up European birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 yet missed both his efforts inside 6 feet resulting in a 2&1 loss.
Session 4 -- Four-balls
Burns & Morikawa
Hovland & Aberg
Homa & Harman
Fleetwood & Hojgaard
Thomas & Spieth
Rose & MacIntyre
Cantlay & Clark
Fitzpatrick & McIlroy
Match 13 -- Morikawa & Burns 4&3 over Hovland & Aberg: Burns' birdie on the opening hole marked the first American victory on No. 1 all week. They carried this momentum for the rest of the match, ham-and-egging their way around Marco Simone effectively. Hovland & Aberg were shells of their morning selves as they made just one birdie across the first 11 holes. By that time, they were five holes behind and without enough runway to mount a comeback despite a nice finish from Aberg.
Match 14 -- Homa & Harman 2&1 over Fleetwood & Hojgaard: Early and often, the Americans took it to the Englishman and the Dane. Homa was special. He had the entirety of his bag working and was 9 under on his ball holing several key putts in the process. Harman helped with a handy birdie on the par-5 9th, and the two took a four-hole lead into the inward half. Par breakers were exchanged, and fireworks were set off. Homa chipped in for par on No. 15 to tie before Fleetwood returned the favor on No. 16 with an eagle. The Americans scratched out a much-needed full point with a par on the penultimate hole.
Match 15 -- Rose & MacIntyre 3&2 over Thomas & Spieth: On paper, this match leaned U.S., and it had the look in the beginning. Thomas & Spieth held a one-hole lead through eight, but they could not win another hole the rest of the match. Like Friday, Rose was brilliant. Birdies from the Englishman around the turn gave Europe their first lead of the day, and they didn't look back. MacIntyre rose to the occasion late with a birdie on the 13th to go two holes clear and a par save on the 15th to maintain their lead.
Match 16 -- Cantlay & Clark 1 UP over McIlroy & Fitzpatrick: It was tight throughout and ultimately produced life for the Americans heading into Sunday. McIlroy & Fitzpatrick had control early with a narrow one-hole lead before Cantlay tied with a birdie on No. 11. McIlroy answered with one of his own on the 14th to put the European flag back on the board before the heat got ratcheted up. McIlroy and Cantlay exchanged birdies on No. 16, and the U.S. drew even with another from Patty Ice on No. 17. The lone match of the day to make its way to 18 holes set up a finish that finally fell in the Americans' favor. Facing down the barrel of what appeared to be a seven-point deficit, the U.S. swung the momentum thanks to Cantlay and his closing birdie to stay within five.
Keep on reading for updates and analysis from the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome.
Rick Gehman and Patrick McDonald break down all the action from Day 2 of the 2023 Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy is heated, Patrick Cantlay's hat and so much more! Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.