“Everybody knows one thing: We’ll be out there until the end and we’re not going to give up,” García said of his team. “It’s going to be difficult, but I assure you we’ll give our best.”
The Saturday afternoon drama was enhanced by strong winds that whipped across Whistling Straits, the Pete Dye-designed course that is devilish even in benign conditions. Some players donned woolen winter caps in the elements and others were in short sleeves. The format for the matches was four-ball, in which each golfer plays his own ball and the lower score for a team decides the result on a hole.
Three of the four matches were hotly contested and one was not, as the undefeated American team of Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa cruised to a comfortable 4-and-3 victory against Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The combination of McIlroy, who has played in six Ryder Cups, and Poulter, a stalwart and firebrand for the Europeans since 2004, has produced an 0-2 record. McIlroy has been on the losing side of each of his three matches.
The heavyweight showdown was between Spieth and his partner Koepka and the Spanish pairing of García and Rahm, the world’s top-ranked player who has been spectacular at this Ryder Cup. The Rahm-García pairing came into the match against Spieth and Koepka undefeated in their two previous matches. They did not trail in the match through 16 holes. Spieth, usually so reliable when facing pivotal putts, missed a handful of makeable birdie or par attempts that could have wrested the lead from Rahm and García, who won, 2 and 1.
Like Rahm and García, their teammates Shane Lowry of Ireland and Tyrrell Hatton of England held the lead or were tied with the Americans Tony Finau and Harris English through 17 holes. Still, with the European team’s hopes of a comeback on Sunday all but hanging in the balance, Lowry faced a 10-foot uphill par putt to win the match. With a steady, rhythmic stroke, Lowry drilled the putt in the center of the hole for a 1-up victory.
Not surprisingly, the most unpredictable and volatile match involved DeChambeau, who was teamed with Scottie Scheffler against Tommy Fleetwood of England and Viktor Hovland of Norway. While the lead was traded back and forth, after 14 holes the match was tied — until Scheffler sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the 15th green to give his team a one-hole edge. That lead was later extended, with Scheffler and DeChambeau eventually winning 3 and 1.