Sergio García, Thomas’ counterpart on the European side – at least in terms of his leadership style – was not tilted.
“Everyone knows one thing: we’ll be here until the end and we’re not going to give up,” García said of his team. “It’s going to be tough, but I assure you we’ll do our best. “
The Saturday afternoon drama was heightened by strong winds sweeping through the Whistling Strait, the Pete Dye-designed course that is devilish even in mild conditions. Some players donned woolen winter hats in the elements and others wore short sleeves. The game format was four-ball, in which each golfer plays their own ball and the lowest score for a team decides the outcome on a hole.
Three of the four matches were hotly contested and one was not, as the undefeated US side of Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa clinched a comfortable 4-3 victory over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The combination of McIlroy, who has played six Ryder Cups, and Poulter, a mainstay and spearhead of the Europeans since 2004, produced a 0-2 record. McIlroy has been on the losing side in all of his three games.
The heavyweight showdown pitted Spieth and his partner Koepka against the Spanish duo García and Rahm, the world’s highest ranked player who has been spectacular in this Ryder Cup. The Rahm-García duo entered the game against Spieth and Koepka undefeated in their previous two matches. They didn’t lag in the game through 16 holes. Spieth, usually so reliable in the face of crucial putts, missed a handful of birdie or par attempts that could have snatched the lead from Rahm and García, who won, 2 and 1.
Like Rahm and García, their teammates Shane Lowry of Ireland and Tyrrell Hatton of England held the lead or were tied with Americans Tony Finau and Harris English on 17 holes. Still, with the European squad’s hopes of a comeback on Sunday, Lowry faced a 10-foot uphill putt to win the game. With a steady, rhythmic stroke, Lowry drilled the putt down the center of the hole for a 1-up victory.