Things were getting tighter at the Ryder Cup. Then came the 18th hole

Viktor Hovland reacts to his birdie putt on the 18th hole during the Friday afternoon session of the Ryder Cup.

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ROME – Those poor fans who waited behind the 18th hole for hours, reassured that their patience would bring unhindered four-ball games to their doorstep? They deserve your pity.

When the chaos of this Ryder Cup finally reached them – around 5:30 p.m. local time in Italy – hundreds of cameramen, media members, wives, family and friends suddenly blocked their view and disrupted the space inside the ropes. It’s hard to be a fan of this event when there are so few and so many golfers in front of you Other running around, but the good news for the poor people around the 18th came not in the form of a clear view of three indelible Ryder Cup moments, but rather in the joyous joy of a burly, sun-drenched Irishman prancing around as he did had won the lottery.

Shane Lowry had just gotten down on one knee on the 18th fairway when Viktor Hovland’s 26-foot birdie lifted him to his feet and sent him hurtling down the hole toward the green. Lowry ran with his fists clenched and crow hopped into a jab as if he had just scored a goal in the Champions League. This scene wasn’t football, but it was as close as golf can ever get. Hovland’s putt provided a birdie 4 against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth and, at worst, a halved game in the first four-ball session of the afternoon. Europe 4.5, USA 0.5.

Some of those poor fans behind the 18th had traveled from Liverpool and were taunting those on the ropes in front of them. “We were two Howahs here,” they said, hanging an Everton Football Club flag over the iron bars in front of them. They didn’t see all the action on Hovland’s birdie but weren’t upset for long as fellow Everton fans Tommy Fleetwood and his caddy Ian Finnis now put their arms around them to take a photo.

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photos with the band, while is the action taking place? This is what happens when you make it big. Or when you know that you are on the verge of great success. When it seems like nothing can go wrong.

“We are not leaven!” The spectators were now screaming and no longer angry. If they didn’t mean it then, they did about ten minutes later, when Jon Rahm’s eagle putt rolled and rolled 33 feet before ramming into the back of the glass and falling up and down. It’s called “Shooter’s Touch”. Another halved game, another stolen half from Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler, who had been leading the way. Rahm couldn’t believe his eyes, but perhaps he should have, since he played 33 holes of golf on Friday and barely made a mistake. His 7.25 strokes gained (according to DataGolf) led everyone involved. He chipped three times and almost made an ace.

This time, Lowry hopped around behind the green with a few more punches. Again, the only people making these moves famous are footballers. And apparently golfers on the last weekend in September. Did he notice that he was prancing around right in front of a now very dejected American team? Probably not. But that’s your right if your team plays well and the other team plays like the Americans did on Friday. Not good enough.

From the perspective of European captain Luke Donald, the Rahm-Adler was a bit lucky. Of course it was. But luck wins Ryder Cups. Luck ignites analytics reports of fire and torture of good juju and is clearly helping to topple unbeatable American partnerships. And it’s perfectly fine for hundreds of people to ruin the perspective of hundreds of others.

“Certainly things got a little quieter in the middle of the back nine,” Donald said Friday evening. A score of 5-3 overnight seemed likely. “You could tell by the energy that it was changing a little bit and some of the guys who weren’t playing in the afternoon had the job of looking the crowd in the eye and getting them going a little bit to convince our guys the line of what they did.”

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And even more. But ask the Euro players holding their breath past 18 if they thought 6.5-1.5 was possible and they wouldn’t have believed it. Justin Rose had Bob MacIntyre dragging Max Homa and Wyndham Clark down the back nine, and Clark was 30 yards ahead in the fairway. But as was the case with Team USA, by the time they had the putters in hand, the Americans were already out of contention and Rose was the last person standing with a chance to make an impact.

From nine feet out, Rose did exactly what Hovland and Rahm did, scoring half a point when the Americans had left it on the table. Accordingly Golf statistician Justin RayIt was the first time in the event’s history that Europe held off the United States from winning a game in a full day.

Once again there was a guttural scream. This time from Rose himself, who admitted there weren’t many in his storied Ryder Cup career moments. This was his moment.

Instead of finding Lowry this time, they wanted to look at the Americans. There was just nothing to look at. Empty faces. Empty, expansive looks. This is what an NFL team looks like when it loses in overtime on a 55-yard field goal. Golf has a way of achieving this, because so much in this sport is improbable until the moment it isn’t. If you calculate the probabilities that Hovland’s, Rahm’s and Rose’s putts will fall, you get a probability of less than 1%. But it happened and the fans behind 18 celebrated.

The European players and caddies enjoyed themselves as they should and were serenaded with every step they took back to the clubhouse. The Americans went a few steps further. Jordan Spieth visited the range. Collin Morikawa and Brooks Koepka did too. Xander Schauffele went to the putting green. Looking for something much better for tomorrow.

blank Things were getting tighter at the Ryder Cup. Then came the 18th hole

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