Team USA’s dominance over the opening two days of the 43rd Ryder Cup 2020 has inevitably led to expectations of a record margin of victory if the trend continues in Sunday’s singles at Whistling Straits.
The US leads by 11-5 after the first four sessions in Wisconsin, the first time the US has led by more than five points coming into the final day, and they only need three and a half points from the remaining 12 matches to reclaim the iconic gold trophy.
Since 1979, when Great Britain and Ireland has renamed Europe on the guidance of Jack Nicklaus, there have been three competitions with a winning margin of nine points, a record that Steve Stricker’s strong lineup is threatening to break.
The USA squad that won 18.5-9.5 at Walton Heath in 1981 is usually regarded as the strongest side in competition history, with captain Dave Marr having an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.
Europe was on the defensive against Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, incumbent Masters champion Tom Watson, Open champion Bill Rogers, and PGA champion Larry Nelson, with Bruce Lietzke the only member of the team who would never win a major.
Home captain John Jacobs was given an additional hurdle to overcome when he was unable to select Seve Ballesteros due to the Spaniard’s dispute with the European Tour over appearance money, although sceptics were left wondering what all the fuss was about when day one ended with Europe a point ahead.
The tide shifted on the second day, with Team USA winning seven of the day’s eight matches, with the tone established when Nick Faldo and Sam Torrance were defeated 7&5 by Trevino and Jerry Pate in the first fourballs match.
A five-point lead entering into Sunday’s singles was never threatened, with Faldo, Manuel Pinero, and Howard Clark, who defeated Watson 4&3, putting the only blue on the board as Team USA came out comfortable winners.
That nine-point victory remained Team USA’s largest until their stunning 17-11 victory at Hazeltine in 2016, with Europe dominating the 16 Ryder Cup editions in between, including back-to-back nine-point drubbings.
Bernhard Langer showed a wise choice as captain on American soil two years later, masterminding a record-breaking success at Oakland Hills in Detroit after reclaiming the championship at The Belfry in 2002.
Early in Ryder Cup 2020 week, Langer oversaw a “charm offensive” that went down well with the locals, including the odd sight of Colin Montgomerie encouraging a critic from the gallery to better his seven-iron from the rough during a, practise round.
The inspired Europeans, however, ensured that the fans would have little to cheer about during the three days of competition, with a five-point lead after day one knocking the stuffing out of Hal Sutton’s star-studded US side, which included Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, whose bitter rivalry was heightened when they lost twice on day one paired together.
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