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Team USA entered the week intent on turning the page on a quarter century of European Ryder Cup dominance and appears poised to finish the job Sunday at Whistling Straits.

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With six rookies playing like anything else, the Americans haven’t lost a single session in two days of team play, and will take a dominant 11-5 lead in Sunday’s singles game.

Captain of the USA team and a native of Wisconsin, Steve Stricker’s star-studded team have beaten European underdog Padraig Harrington, winning each of the first three sessions 3-1, before tying the session of four balls Saturday afternoon 2-2.

“Personally, I thought we could have gone 4-0,” Bryson DeChambeau said of Saturday afternoon’s session. “But to get 2-2 and stay in the same place, the advantage that we have created is huge. We haven’t had this good opportunity in a long time and we look forward to getting the job done tomorrow. We have to focus like it’s 0-0 again and try to get as many points as we can. “

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World No. 2 Dustin Johnson has played all four sessions, three of them paired with Collin Morikawa, and is 4-0. Five of Team USA’s six rookies have winning records, with Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay perfect so far. Only Harris English (1-1) between them has lost a match.

On the European side, world No. 1 Jon Rahm (3-0-1) and his regular teammate Sergio Garcia (3-0) have been the only standouts. The only other European team to win a game is Shane Lowry and Tyrell Hatton on Saturday afternoon. The Europe team hoped to squeeze a Ryder Cup out of a familiar cast of characters that included the 40-something Garcia, Ian Poulter (0-3), Paul Casey (0-3) and Lee Westwood (0-2).

Garcia was asked after his game about the performance of the rest of his team.

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“I’m not going to start ripping, that’s not what we do,” he said. “Everyone is trying their best. Sometimes you don’t play that well and other times you get outnumbered. It’s as simple as that.”

Rory McIlroy has also been a huge disappointment, losing all three of his matches by uneven scores of 5 and 3, 4 and 3 and 4 and 3.

“Obviously disappointing,” McIlroy said Saturday night. “Disappointing not yet provide a point for the team. So hopefully we go out tomorrow and do everything we can to get a point, and hopefully we can go back and finally give them something to maybe break a sweat about mid-afternoon tomorrow. “

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With Team USA leading 11-5 and needing just 3.5 points from 12 singles matches on Sunday, it will take the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history for defending Europeans to clinch the trophy. Only nine times in 42 previous Ryder Cups has a team come from behind to win or force a draw during Sunday’s singles game, with the largest margin exceeding 10-6, a feat accomplished by the Americans in 1999 and Europe in 2012.

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“We are not in a good position and it is going to take a monumental effort,” Poulter said. “So we need a couple of miracles.”

THE BLAME GAME
In Ryder Cups, captains will inevitably question themselves, especially when one team is shooting at full throttle and the other has an oil leak. This week, however, I have a hard time with anyone trying to attribute Europe’s performance to their captain Padraig Harrington for three days. To continue the engine analogy, the Harrington side simply lacks the horsepower to keep up.

Team Europe have been very successful as underdogs in recent years, but more than ever this team needed their stars to play leading roles and their Ryder Cup legends to rekindle the magic.

So far, he hasn’t had enough either.

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Certainly, Rahm has been widely touted as the best player in the world, but for three days McIlroy has brought with him the struggles that plagued him for much of the year, including an uninspired wedge game that puts too much pressure on his putter. If anything, Harrington deserves credit for having the guts to seat the four-time Major League Champion in a session for the first time in his career at the Ryder Cup on Saturday morning.

When it comes to Team Europe legends, only Garcia, 41, has found his mojo this week. Poulter, 45, and Westwood, 48, appear to be their age, which means they can still step up, but they can no longer be counted on.

This should come as no surprise, as this is how they have played all season. Poulter has four top ten but six missed cuts. Westwood qualified for the team thanks to two good weeks in March, when he finished runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship. The affable Englishman has only one top 20 in six months since then.

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At the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris, everyone was three years younger; and surrounding Rory, Rahm and the European stalwarts were players like Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood, all ranked in the top 12 in the world at the time.

This year they had a little extra magic, so far it has disappeared.

CHIP SHOT
This year, for the first time, a player from each team will receive the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award for embodying the spirit of the Ryder Cup. It is an award for sportsmanship and after some pouting over the tricks and disputes over the rules, it was making it difficult to imagine who could win it, particularly on the American side. Jordan Spieth seems like the obvious choice for three days. Several times this week, Spieth has had words with the pro-American crowd when they get rebellious, and on Saturday afternoon, when things heated up a bit with Rahm and his caddy over a decision, Spieth went after the hole to smooth out the stuff.

MATCHES

Xander Schauffele vs. Rory McIlroy
Patrick Cantlay vs. Shane Lowry
Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm
Bryson DeChambeau vs. Sergio Garcia
Collin Morikawa vs. Viktor hovland
Dustin Johnson vs. Paul Casey
Brooks Koepka vs. Bernd Wiesberger
Tony Finau vs. Ian Poulter
Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton
Harris English vs. Lee Westwood
Jordan Spieth vs. Tommy Fleetwood
Daniel Berger vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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