The U.S. Ryder Cup team had a four-point lead going into Sunday’s singles play in 2012 at Medinah Golf Club in Chicago and lost it all.
This time, they take a three-point lead into Sunday at Hazeltine National Golf Club with five players and the same captain, Davis Love III, remaining from that team.
“We all know the deal is to do our job,” said four-time Ryder Cup player Matt Kuchar, one of eight Americans to lose in those 12 Sunday matches four years ago.
“We go out there to win our match, not worrying about how many points the team needs to close it out. There is no total. We’re going out there to do our job, to win our match. We’d like to win all 12 matches. That’s our job for tomorrow.”
They need to win five of the 12 matches to win the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008 and only the second time since 1999.
Love said he did not mention 2012 to his players when he addressed them after his team went 3-1 in Saturday afternoon four-ball play and built a 9½-6½ lead.
“No, we keep looking forward,” Love said. “But trust me, the six captains, we talk about it because we’ve learned.”
Europe captain Darren Clarke called himself and his team “disappointed” by Saturday afternoon’s results but not discouraged about Sunday’s prospects.
“Certainly we were hoping for a lot better, but Ryder Cup teams have come back from further just fine,” Clarke said. “The guys will be disappointed they didn’t do a little bit better, but you know it’s not over yet. There’s still 12 points to play for tomorrow.”
Losing their way
It is one of golf’s edicts, but neither Europe’s Sergio Garcia nor American Brooks Koepka played it where it lies Saturday at the 41st Ryder Cup. Garcia hit a drive that landed in a marshal’s jacket pocket, and Koepka’s errant attempt to drive the par-4 fifth green came to rest on the backpack that European opponent Thomas Pieters’ father wore.
“That was a first,” said European Ryder Cup rookie Rafa Cabrera Bello, Garcia’s partner Saturday morning. “That’s a really nice anecdote. Gladly, obviously, nobody got hurt.”
Making Arnie proud
LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam wore a Hazeltine jacket and proudly waved a European flag Saturday. She is a co-designer of the Tartan Park course revamp in Lake Elmo. Her partner in the project, Arnold Palmer, died last Sunday and tributes to the golf legend have been prominent all week. The most notable: His golf bag from the 1975 Ryder Cup is displayed on the first tee.
The next Twin Cities homage to Palmer will come when the new course, called the King and Queen, opens for play. Asked about Palmer’s legacy here Sorenstam said, “We’re going to make him proud.”
• Longtime friends Kuchar and Phil Mickelson played in a Ryder Cup pairing for the first time, winning Saturday afternoon together. Kuchar called Mickelson “my big brother.”
• European star Rory McIlroy beat Mickelson on Saturday morning for the first time after three consecutive Ryder Cup losses.
“When I saw the draw last night, I was like, ‘Yes, I get to have a go at him again’ because my record against him in the Ryder Cup isn’t what I would like it to be,” he said.
• The PGA of America presented Jack Nicklaus with a framed copy of his PGA membership application Saturday at the PGA Members Pavilion. Nicklaus submitted that application 50 years ago, in 1966.
“The game has come a long way, and I’m delighted to be a part of it,” he said.
• Among the celebrities out the first two competition days: basketball superstar Michael Jordan, actor Bill Murray and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
• Europe’s Thomas Pieters is the first Ryder Cup rookie since 1999 to play all five matches. He’s 3-1 so far and plays J.B. Holmes on Sunday.
Staff writer Brian Stensaas contributed to this report.