SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The final team session that left the Americans on the cusp of winning back the Ryder Cup ended in a tie that was open to interpretation.
Scottie Scheffler made the biggest putt of his young career, helping the Americans flip a fourballs match late Saturday afternoon and giving them an 11-5 lead.
Not only is it their largest lead in the modern era dating to 1979, no team has ever won the Ryder Cup when trailing by more than four points going into the final session of singles.
“No one is taking tomorrow for granted at all,” U.S. captain Steve Stricker said. “We are totally focused on what we need to do to get the job done.”
For the Europeans, simply not losing a session for the first time all week at least showed them they have some fight. That won’t make the task any easier.
“We are not going to give up,” Sergio Garcia said. “I will give my all to them, and I know they will do the same thing for me. We are going to try out hardest. We know it’s going to be difficult. But we’re going to do our best.”
The pressure and drama so typical of a Ryder Cup on Saturday was evident. The only real suspense, however, was whether Europe could make a game of it.
Instead, the Americans held their own over the final hour. Dustin Johnson completed a perfect week of team playing by winning his fourth match, three of them with Collin Morikawa at his side, and the six U.S. rookies did their part by going a combined 9-1-2.
Two of them are Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who rolled over Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick with a five-hole stretch of clutch play and big shots around the turn. Cantlay was walking over a bridge to the 10th tee when he said, “It’s time to put our metal spikes down on their (expletive) necks.”
Another is Scheffler, who teamed with Bryson DeChambeau in the last match on the course. The match was all square until Scheffler holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, leading to a fierce chest bump with the bulked up DeChambeau. Scheffler held his own with that, too.
“We didn’t want them to be able to win a session,” Scheffler said. “So for us to get a full point here was huge, and the last match out on Saturday is always a big match, so for us to keep the momentum on our side was definitely big for the team.”
The Europeans tried to hold their own, getting another big win from Jon Rahm and a clutch moment from Shane Lowry, who holed a 10-foot par putt on the 18th green and was pumping his arms so furiously in celebration that he finally dropped his putter on the ground.
So much was as stake. So little was gained.
“We’re not in a good position and it’s going to take a beyond monumental effort,” said Ian Poulter, who has failed to deliver a point in two matches. “So we need a couple of miracles.”
The reference was to the “Miracle at Medinah” in 2012, when Europe stormed back from a 10-6 deficit in shocking fashion. Stricker played on that team and said the Americans have learned from their mistakes.
“I’m not going to bring up Medinah,” Stricker said. His message to them was, “Don’t be content with where we’re at. We want to win the session again tomorrow.”
Tony Finau wanted even more.
“They have run the score up on us before. And if we have the opportunity, we are going to run it up on them tomorrow,” he said. “We have guys that are hungry to win a point.”
The 11-5 lead matches the Ryder Cup record in the modern era that dates to 1979. Europe led by six points in 2004 at Oakland Hills and went on to a nine-point victory. It’s the largest lead since the Americans led by nine in 1975, before Europe was invited to the matches.
The Americans routed Europe again in foursomes Saturday morning — a 3-1 advantage for the third straight session — to build a 9-3 lead.
And while Europe was ahead in three of the afternoon fourballs, it turned out to be a draw.
Next up is the final session of 12 singles matches, historically an American strength. They need to reach 14 1/2 points to win back that gold trophy.
“I think we have a lot of guys on this team that really hate losing, and so individual matches tomorrow, I think guys are going to be fired up and ready to play,” Scheffler said. “Hopefully, finish this thing off.”
Schauffele leads off against Rory McIlroy, who has lost all three of his matches and has yet to play the 16th hole since the practice rounds. He’s followed by Cantlay against Lowry.
Rahm was unbeaten in team play, one of the few bright spots for Europe. The world’s No. 1 player, looking every bit the part, teamed with Garcia to win foursomes in the morning and then held on to beat Brooks Koepka and cold-putting Jordan Spieth in fourballs.
Right when it looked as though the Americans might square the match, Rahm made a 30-foot birdie on the 16th hole and Spieth missed from 12 feet — the sixth time in fourballs he missed from that range or closer, including one that mysteriously circled the entire cup and came out.
Even so, the climb is steeper than some of the wild dunes dotting the landscape of this rugged terrain along the Lake Michigan shores.
“I’m sure they know they have a tall order ahead of them,” European captain Padraig Harrington said. “But it’s still possible.”
Europe needs to win nine of the 12 matches to retain the cup. Harrington noted that was only a half-point more than it won on the final day at Medinah.
“They have to just go out there and win their own individual match. There’s nothing more they can do than that,” he said.
The top five players in the world have gone 15-0-2 in team play at this Ryder Cup. The problem for Europe is four of those players are Americans.
Johnson, the first American since Larry Nelson in 1979 to go 4-0 in team play, was the only American to play all four matches.
“The lead that we have created is huge,” DeChambeau said. “We haven’t had this good of an opportunity in a long time and hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow. We’ve got to focus like it’s 0-0 again and try to get every point we can.”
Miami Dolphins fans ranked least rowdy fan base in the NFL
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As more and more fans pack NFL stadiums across the country thanks to lessened COVID-19 restrictions, America seems to be embracing the return of parking lot tailgates, and, yes, “rowdy fans.”
However, it seems a South Florida team’s fanbase is lacking in that department.
According to a new survey by Bookies, Miami Dolphins fans rank as the least rowdy fan base in football.
Read more from ABC Miami.
Miami Dolphins lose fifth straight game, 23-20, to drop to 1-5; Jacksonville Jaguars end 20-game skid with 53-yard FG for London win
LONDON, U.K. — The Jacksonville Jaguars ended their 20-game losing streak when Matthew Wright kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired in a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in London.
Trevor Lawrence connected on a short slant pass to Laviska Shenault Jr. and the Jags (1-5) called timeout with 1 second remaining after the Dolphins (1-5) gambled on a fourth-and-1 from their 46 and came up short.
Lawrence threw for 319 yards and a touchdown as he and coach Urban Meyer finally earned their first NFL victories — even if it required a trip to Europe to get it done in a “home” game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The Dolphins lost their fifth consecutive game, spoiling the return of Tua Tagovailoa, who made his first start in a month. The second-year quarterback threw two touchdown passes to Jaylen Waddle.
Wright had tied the game at 20 on a 54-yard field goal with 3:40 remaining.
The Dolphins took a 20-17 lead when Tagovailoa finished a seven-play, 91-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Waddle with 10:22 left in the game. Waddle caught the ball and stuck it over the goal line as cornerback Nevin Lawson tackled him.
Jacksonville grabbed a 17-13 lead early in the third quarter on James Robinson’s 1-yard run after he rumbled 24 yards on the previous play. The drive included a 29-yard reception by Jamal Agnew and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Miami safety Jevon Holland.
Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense started hot, scoring on their first drive, but squandering two other chances from inside the Jacksonville 10, settling for field goals both times.
On the opening drive, Tagovailoa completed eight of 10 passes and finished a 75-yard opening drive with a 6-yard slant to Jaylen Waddle to put Miami ahead 7-0. They converted three third downs including a 20-yard reception by tight end Mike Gesicki and Tagovailoa’s 7-yard scramble to the 6, setting up Waddle’s touchdown.
The Jaguars answered with big plays of their own, when Lawrence connected with Agnew for a 24-yard gain on their first play from scrimmage. The drive stalled, though, when Dan Arnold dropped a third-down pass at the 16-yard line. The Jags settled for a 40-yard field goal from Matthew Wright — their first field goal of the season — to make it 7-3.
After field goals of 33 and 24 yards by Jason Sanders, the Jaguars forced a three-and-out and got the ball back on the Miami 49 with 1:45 left in half, down 13-3.
Lawrence then finally exploited Miami’s depleted secondary, launching a perfect pass to Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone for a 28-yard TD pass with backup cornerback Noah Igbinoghene in coverage to make the score 13-10 with 40 seconds left in the half.
Miami played without starting cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, who were both out injured.
Before Sunday, the Jags hadn’t won a game since beating Indianapolis 27-20 in the 2020 season opener, when Gardner Minshew threw three TD passes. The 20-game losing streak is the second-longest in the Super Bowl era.
Jacksonville’s win also snapped the London hex on rookie quarterbacks, who had been 0-5 since the NFL started staging regular-season games in England’s capital in 2007.
Now, it’s the Dolphins racking up losses. They haven’t won since beating New England in the season opener, back when Miami was considered a possible playoff team after a 10-6 season in 2020.
Miami is the only one of the four teams that played in London to not get a bye the following week.
Sunday’s game featured a rematch of quarterbacks from the College Football Playoff national championship game from the 2018 season. Lawrence and Clemson beat Tagovailoa and Alabama 44-16.
Dolphins: host Atlanta on Oct. 24.
Jaguars: bye week, then at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Oct. 31.
Miami Hurricanes nearly pull off comeback, fall short to Sam Howell’s 4 TDs and North Carolina, 45-42
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Sam Howell threw two touchdowns and ran for two more as North Carolina held off Miami, 45-42, sending the Hurricanes to their worst record at the midway mark of a season in more than two decades.
Miami was in position to tie or win when reaching the North Carolina 16-yard line in the final minute, but linebacker Cedric Gray intercepted a tipped pass with 6 seconds left.
Ty Chandler ran for two touchdowns for the Tar Heels (4-3 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) in a matchup of two teams that began the season in the Top 15, but are trying to gain traction midway through the season.
The Hurricanes (2-4, 0-2) are 2-4 for the first time since 1997 when they were on NCAA probation and stuck with scholarship limitations.
Howell was 17 for 26 for 154 yards in the air with an interception while running for 98 yards on 17 carries. Chandler gained 104 yards on the ground on 18 attempts.
Howell’s touchdown runs covered 30 and 11 yards, both times pinballing off Miami defenders.
Miami nearly erased an 18-point deficit, pulling within 38-34 before stalling in North Carolina territory early in the fourth quarter. Then the Tar Heels drove 58 yards for a touchdown, aided by 30 yards on Miami penalties.
Freshman Jaylan Knight ran for two Miami touchdowns, including a 4-yard run to cap a 97-yard drive with 3:08 remaining that was followed by a successful two-point conversion pass play.
The Hurricanes, after using all their timeouts, regained possession at the 2:46 mark and picked up 56 yards before the interception.
Miami used Tyler Van Dyke, who made his third career starter and first away from home, at quarterback just days after it was announced that D’Eriq King would be lost to season-ending shoulder surgery.
Van Dyke, who was 5 for 15 and picked off twice in the first half, finished 20 for 45 with 264 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
Miami’s first points came on Jahfari Harvey’s 33-yard return with a first-quarter interception.
Miami: The Hurricanes don’t seem equipped to overcome much adversity and they encountered more of it in their first true road game of the season. Miami lost team rushing and scoring leader Cam’Ron Harris to a lower-body injury on the first drive of the second half.
North Carolina: Receiver Josh Downs has scored on a touchdown reception in every game this season, including the team’s first TD on a 45-yard play Saturday. He has an eight game TD streak dating to last season. He made 10 of his 11 receptions in the first half, ending up with 96 yards.
Miami is home against No. 22 North Carolina State on Saturday.
North Carolina has a bye week before traveling to Notre Dame on Oct. 30.