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Ryder Cup: Patrick Cantlay’s final flourish gives Team USA a lifeline after afternoon fightback

<i>Jamie Squire / Getty Images</i><br/>Team USA's Patrick Cantlay celebrates winning his Saturday afternoon fourball match during the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome
Jamie Squire / Getty Images
Team USA's Patrick Cantlay celebrates winning his Saturday afternoon fourball match during the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — Team USA’s Patrick Cantlay finished with a flourish to complete a much-needed Saturday fightback for his side at the Ryder Cup.

After falling 3-1 to Europe in another miserable morning of foursomes at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome, American captain Zach Johnson saw his side finally click into gear in the afternoon, Cantlay’s two closing birdies sealing a 3-1 fourballs win and a first session victory for the visitors.

The World No. 5 paired with Wyndham Clark to edge Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick 1-up and cut the overall deficit to 10.5 – 5.5, offering hope for the US ahead of what will need to be a huge performance in the decisive Sunday singles session.

Johnson’s side need to accumulate 8.5 points from a possible 12 to retain the trophy they clinched in historically crushing fashion at Whistling Straits two years ago, while European counterpart Luke Donald’s team require just four further points to win.

“Hopefully we have a ray of light, can build on this session and try and pull off a big victory tomorrow,” Cantlay told reporters.

In the first afternoon match, Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa paired to defeat Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg 4&3, exacting revenge on Scottie Scheffler’s behalf after a historically crushing defeat at the hands of the Scandinavian duo had left their teammate in tears hours earlier.

With Scheffler subsequently left out of the fourballs lineup, there was a world No. 1 sized hole in the US roster, but Burns and Morikawa stepped up. Both had tasted defeat playing with other partners Friday, but joined forces to ease past the in-form Hovland and Aberg.

Six-up after 12, it was a slightly uncomfortable landing as the European duo won the next two holes, but the American pair got over the line at the 15th to secure a satisfying victory over two home favorites.

“We knew the crowds were going to be against us. We just kept fighting,” Burns, who taunted fans with an ear-cupping gesture after a birdie putt at the sixth hole, told reporters.

“These guys are ready, we’re all positive and we know what we’re capable of. We know it’s going to be tough, we know it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re excited for it.”

Max Homa continued to stake his claim as Team USA’s best performing player in Rome, starring again alongside Open champion Brian Harman to see off Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard 2&1.

Homa and Harman had paired together to secure their team’s first win of the week hours earlier with a 4&2 win over Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka, consolidating a blossoming bromance.

“We basically have zero things in common about where we’re from, but we are the exact same person on the inside,” Homa told reporters.

“So I very much enjoyed vibing with Brian, watching him play. He is steady Eddie. It just made me feel like I could just go be myself, and I think that’s why we work so well together.”

Harman added: “It’s just been incredible. Love him. You’re not going to be able to take this partner away from me.”

Justin Rose enjoyed another memorable afternoon to secure Europe’s only point of the session, as he and Robert MacIntyre clinched a 3&2 victory over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

The 43-year-old had completed a famous Friday for Europe, his laser putt stealing a shock half point in the day’s final match, and starred once again, winning four holes to his partner’s one.

Sunday’s decisive singles session begins at 5:35 a.m. ET (10:35 a.m. BST) with Scheffler against Jon Rahm, matches subsequently teeing off in 12 minute intervals.

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