(Photo credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports)
Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg trampled Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka 9 and 7 in a record-breaking Saturday morning foursomes session, and Team Europe is five points away from winning the 44th Ryder Cup this weekend in Rome.
Europe leads the United States team 9 1/2-2 1/2 after winning three of four matches Saturday morning at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, with four four-ball (best-ball) matches still to come. The United States is on the brink of handing over the Ryder Cup after winning in a 19-9 demolition two years ago at Whistling Straits.
Hovland and Aberg, the Scandinavian rising stars from Norway and Sweden, respectively, won nine of 11 holes playing foursomes (alternate-shot) against two of the U.S. team's most decorated golfers Saturday morning, leaving Scheffler to wipe away tears after the thorough defeat. It marked the largest margin of victory for an 18-hole match in Ryder Cup history.
"We're meeting two strong guys, No. 1 in the world and five-time major champ, so we tried to not give them anything, and we played really, really solid," Hovland said. "Obviously we didn't meet a sharp Scottie and Brooks but we played some really nice golf today."
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and England's Tommy Fleetwood teamed up as they did Friday morning, this time beating Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 2 and 1.
It took the U.S. till the 11th match of the competition to earn a full point. Max Homa chipped in for eagle at the par-4 16th to secure a 4-and-2 win for himself and Brian Harman over Ireland's Shane Lowry and Austria's Sepp Straka.
"We obviously are in a big hole but we have the right guys to dig ourselves out of it," Homa said.
To finish off the morning, Spaniard Jon Rahm and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton rallied to beat Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele 2 and 1.
The American duo went eagle-birdie-birdie at Nos. 12-14 to win three straight and move ahead 1 up, but the Europeans tied it at No. 16 and Rahm came 7 inches away from a hole-in-one at the par-3 17th. Cantlay answered by knocking his tee shot 3 1/2 feet from the hole, but Schauffele's birdie putt to extend the match lipped out.
Saturday's four-ball matches will see Hovland and Aberg team up again to face Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa; Fleetwood and Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard will play Homa and Harman; England's Justin Rose and Scotland's Robert MacIntyre will face Thomas and Spieth, paired together for the third straight session; and England's Matt Fitzpatrick and McIlroy will duel Cantlay and Wyndham Clark.
--Field Level Media