One of the big questions for Team USA heading into the Ryder Cup: Who could possibly click with Bryson DeChambeau?
The long-driving lug was too polarizing, too combustible, too self-absorbed to conform to team play. His history of run-ins with fellow golfers and rules officials didn’t help. It was a quandary.
As it turns out, not only does DeChambeau have a college physics degree, but he can pass a critical chemistry test too.
One down to Europeans Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland after 13 holes at Whistling Straits, DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler tore off four consecutive birdies — each contributing two — to win the four-ball match 3 and 1.
That gave the U.S. an 11-5 advantage heading into Sunday’s singles matches, and neither side has ever overcome a deficit that large on the final day of competition.
“We would have liked to have won the session, eaten into that lead,” European captain Padraig Harrington said. “Six points is a tough one to make up tomorrow, but I think we were a half-point short of that in the Miracle at Medinah on Sunday, so we’re just going to have to push for that.”
Like one of DeChambeau’s stratospheric drives, he and Scheffler likely put the cup out of reach for the Europeans, who have won four of the last five.
“It’s just a big momentum swing from our match going 1-down and going into 14 and the potential of it being 10-6 again like it was at Medinah,” Scheffler said. “For us to be able to flip that match was huge.”
The teams played alternating shots Saturday morning with the Americans winning 3-1. It was 2-2 in the afternoon for four-ball play, in which each member of the two-man team plays his own ball and each team counts the lowest of its two scores on the hole.
For most of the tournament, an appropriate motto for the Europeans was, “No Spain, no gain.” That’s because the only three victories the Europeans had were by Spaniards Rahm and Sergio Garcia. That changed late Saturday when Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton contributed one by with a 1-up win over Tony Finau and Harris English.
“We’re still not out of it,” Lowry said. “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.”
Rahm has been especially deadly on the greens.
“I’ve been making every putt that I need to, and then some,” he said. “When you do things like that, it gives you a lot of confidence, right. It gets to a point where I started freeing myself up a little bit and now just knowing that, you know, just feeling good, so putting it on the green, I’ll have a good chance.”
The woes continued for Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy, a six-time Ryder Cup veteran who has lost five matches in a row, dating to Paris in 2018.
“Obviously disappointing,” said McIlroy, who along with Ian Poulter lost a four-ball match to Johnson and Morikawa on Saturday afternoon. “Disappointing not to contribute a point for the team yet. So hopefully just go out tomorrow and try my best to get a point, and hopefully we can rally and at last give them something to maybe sweat about tomorrow in the middle of the afternoon.”
In Sunday’s singles play, it’s Schauffele versus McIlroy; Cantlay vs. Lowry; Scheffler vs. Rahm; Morikawa vs. Hovland; Johnson vs. Paul Casey; Brooks Koepka vs. Bernd Wiesberger; Finau vs. Poulter; Justin Thomas vs. Hatton; English vs. Lee Westwood; Jordan Spieth vs. Fleetwood; and Daniel Berger vs. Matt Fitzpatrick.
“We have said it from the start how loose and connected they have been with each other,” U.S. captain Steve Stricker said. “It’s showing.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.