The outcome of the 43rd Ryder Cup is all but decided. The US has matched its largest lead (11-5) since the exhibition went to 28 total points in 1979, and the Americans will need only three-and-a-half points out of a possible 12 in the singles to win for only the third time in 10 meetings.
So, who will be the lucky American to be remembered as the one to clinch it?
The possibilities were already being considered on Saturday night when the singles match-ups were released. It’s likely that American captain Steve Stricker didn’t take the clinch scenario into consideration, but rather whom his European counterpart, Padraig Harrington, would put out early in a bid to delay the Yanks’ celebration. And the European captain came through on that, going with Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, world No.1 Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia in his first four spots.
Stricker had counted heavily on his six first-timers, and he countered with three Ryder Cup rookies in his first four. Xander Schauffele (unbeaten this week at 3-0) will take on McIlroy (who is 0-3), followed by unbeaten Patrick Cantlay (2-0-1) against Lowry (1-1-0), and Scottie Scheffler (1-0-1) versus Rahm, who has notched Europe’s most points with three-and-a-half.
In what is arguably the marquee matchup in the fourth match, Bryson DeChambeau, who has played in only two four-ball matches, going 1-0-1, faces Sergio Garcia, the Ryder Cup’s all-time leading scorer who is unbeaten at 3-0.
So, in the best-case scenario (Europe’s worst-case), the US sweeps the first four matches and DeChambeau is “The Man”. Beyond that, at No.5 is first-timer Collin Morikawa (vs Viktor Hovland), followed by unbeaten Dustin Johnson (vs Paul Casey) and Brooks Koepka (vs Bernd Wiesberger).
The final five for the US: Tony Finau (vs Ian Poulter), Justin Thomas (vs Tyrrell Hattton), Harris English (vs Lee Westood), Jordan Spieth (vs Tommy Fleetwood) and Daniel Berger (vs Matthew Fitzpatrick).
The line-up (all times are for Wisconsin; Australia is currently 13 to 15 hours ahead):
Match 1 (11:04am) – Xander Schauffele vs Rory McIlroy
Match 2 (11:15) – Patrick Cantlay vs Shane Lowry
Match 3 (11:26) – Scottie Scheffler vs Jon Rahm
Match 4 (11:37) – Bryson DeChambeau vs Sergio Garcia
Match 5 (11:48) – Collin Morikawa vs Viktor Hovland
Match 6 (11:59) – Dustin Johnson vs Paul Casey
Match 7 (12:10) – Brooks Koepka vs Bernd Wiesberger
Match 8 (12:21) – Tony Finau vs Ian Poulter
Match 9 (12:32) – Justin Thomas vs Tyrrell Hatton
Match 10 (12:43) – Harris English vs Lee Westwood
Match 11 (12:54) – Jordan Spieth vs Tommy Fleetwood
Match 12 (1:05) – Daniel Berger vs Matthew Fitzpatrick
PHOTO: Warren Little