On a gloomy Saturday morning at Marco Simone Golf Club, World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler found himself in a state of shock and disappointment. The words “nine and seven” echoed in his mind as he tried to process the worst defeat in an 18-hole match in Ryder Cup history. Paired with the renowned Brooks Koepka, Scheffler suffered a devastating loss to Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg. As the American team grappled with this unexpected blow, they couldn’t help but wonder how an already challenging weekend had taken a turn for the worse.
The scoreline of the first loss on Saturday was so shocking that it left Justin Thomas, one of the American team’s brightest stars, visibly stunned. Walking down a fairway, Thomas muttered the disheartening numbers, “nine and seven,” to his caddie. With that loss, the American squad trailed the Europeans by a staggering 9½-2½ margin. This seven-point deficit after three sessions matched the largest deficit in the five-session format. The U.S. teams in 1967 and 1975 had also faced such uphill battles.
After a disappointing opening day with no match victories, the American team found a ray of hope in Saturday morning’s foursome matches. Brian Harman and Max Homa secured the squad’s first full point by defeating Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Austria’s Sepp Straka with a score of 4-and-2. Harman and Homa showcased exceptional golf, recording five birdies and two eagles, including a remarkable chip-in from Homa on the 16th hole. This victory injected some much-needed motivation into the team, as Homa expressed the belief that they had the talent to overcome the challenging situation they were in.
The European team further solidified their lead when Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and England’s Tommy Fleetwood defeated the resilient duo of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas by 2 and 1. Despite initially falling behind, Spieth and Thomas fought back and came to within one hole of their opponents. However, the experienced pair of Jon Rahm from Spain and Tyrrell Hatton from England managed to hold off the American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, securing another point for Europe. Schauffele’s missed birdie putts on the 16th and 17th holes proved costly for the Americans.
The standout performance of the morning came from the European team’s emerging star pairing, Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg. Hovland, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, and Aberg, who only turned pro in June, dominated their match against Koepka and Scheffler. They won all of the first four holes and went on to claim victory by a staggering margin of 9 and 7, without giving the Americans an opportunity to win a hole. The match ended swiftly on the 11th hole, making it the largest margin of victory in an 18-hole match in Ryder Cup history.
The U.S. team’s defeat in this match surpassed the previous record for the most lopsided defeat in an 18-hole match at the Ryder Cup, which was 8 and 7. The magnitude of the loss left the American players and fans in a state of disbelief and disappointment. Foursomes matches had also not been favorable for the Americans, as Europe triumphed with a dominant 7-1 scoreline.
As the Ryder Cup entered its final day with 12 singles matches remaining, the American team faced an arduous task. Their seven-point deficit after three sessions meant that they needed a remarkable comeback to reclaim the trophy. However, the resilience and fighting spirit displayed by the European team transformed them into formidable opponents, leaving the American squad with an uphill battle.
The U.S. team’s defeat at the Ryder Cup was undoubtedly a difficult pill to swallow. From the shockingly wide margin of defeat in an 18-hole match to the historical deficit after three sessions, the Americans found themselves in uncharted territory. While they managed to secure some victories in the foursomes matches, the European team’s dominance and exceptional performances cannot be overlooked. The remaining singles matches promised an intense battle, but the American team faced an uphill climb to salvage the tournament.