The Ryder Cup always has one of four outcomes.
It’s either a close American or European win, either of which makes for a very fun weekend of golf. A European blowout win tends to be less compelling on the course, but does lead to a ton of entertaining drama surrounding the American team that fuels plenty of quality content for weeks and months after. (Phil Mickelson going after Tom Watson in 2014, Patrick Reed throwing Tiger and the rest of the team under the bus after 2018, etc.)
So far this year, though, Ryder Cup 2020 (as the uncanny valley branding still calls it) has offered very little drama on or off the course. The Americans have simply dominated pretty much every session at Whistling Straits, handling the team formats that usually favor the European side with ease and taking an 11 to 5 point lead into Sunday’s slate of singles matches. It would have been an even bigger deficit if not for Shane Lowry delivering a clutch putt on the 18th to clinch a rare win for Europe.
— Ryder Cup (@rydercup) September 25, 2021
No team has ever come back from such a deficit, which means we’re firmly in the binary outcome zone: either the Americans are winning, or Europe is coming back from a record deficit for one of the most thrilling wins in the history of the Ryder Cup.
Is it likely? Well, no. Not at all. Europe is aided by the fact they just need to tie to retain the Cup, but the Americans need just 3.5 points to win. That’s means Europe could win eight matches and halve another one and the Americans would still be in position to take the trophy back.
Topping it off, the Americans are just a deeper side, an advantage that will likely be even more apparent on Sunday.
Europe’s Jon Rahm has been amazing, scoring 3.5 points in four matches. But after that, the performance drops off. Rory McIlroy has been bad. The other veterans, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, haven’t contributed much. It’s just been an example of what can happen when the American team has its best players playing well, and the captain gets out of the way. Steve Stricker has done that so far, putting the best players together and making changes when necessary.
If Europe does manage to make things interesting tomorrow, we could see a very quick shift in demeanor for the Americans. It’s not likely, of course, but you never know.