HAVEN, WIS. – Heading once again into a lopsided Ryder Cup singles Sunday, undefeated American star Dustin Johnson has been here before, both at a unique Whistling Straits course he knows well and headed to a final day with his team the overwhelming favorite.
Nine years ago, the Americans led 10-6 after two days and needed 4.5 points to beat an European team that needed eight points to retain the Ryder Cup and 8 ½ to win it outright.
They lost on their home soil by a point in a Sunday still called by some the Miracle at Medinah.
This time, their six-point lead equals Europe's 11-5 lead entering Sunday in 2004 at Oakland Hills in Michigan. They need 3½ points out of a possible 12 matches to win the Cup for the first time since 2016 at Hazeltine National.
The Americans followed Friday's two 3-1 sessions with another the same Saturday for a 9-3 lead after morning alternate-shot matches. They then split the afternoon's foursomes 2-2 to end two-man team play they dominated — except for unbeatable, undeniable world No. 1 ranked Jon Rahm, who won three and halved another of his four matches.
Johnson is the only player from that 2012 team who will play Sunday. Another who played nine years ago was a guy named Steve Stricker, now the U.S. captain.
Back then, Johnson was 28, the third-youngest U.S. player. Now at 37, he is the oldest by five years. He's also the only player from either team who is a perfect 4-0.
With a victory over Paul Casey on Sunday, Johnson would become the fifth player in Ryder Cup history— and fourth American — to be a perfect 5-0. Francesco Molinari did for Europe three years ago in Paris.
Stricker was 45 in 2012, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk were 42 and Tiger Woods was 36.
"We're a lot younger now," Johnson said, comparing U.S. teams. "Obviously, I'm the oldest guy on this team. In 2012, I was one of the young guys on the team for sure. Medinah, we played well. We had a pretty good lead going into singles. Just did not play well.
"You know, it's not over. We've still got to go out and everybody needs to play well. We've still got to get, what, four points, three and a half points? You know, it's not over."
All 12 U.S. team members have contributed to the scoring. Six of the 12 European have contributed zero points and the only ones who have won a match other than Rahm and partner Sergio Garcia was Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton's 1-up victory over Tony Finau and Harris English on Saturday afternoon.
All six U.S. team "rookies" have won at least one match.
"I love the way the guys are playing and the energy they are bringing," Stricker said. "We have said from the start how loose and connected they have been with each other. It's showing. They are playing with some freedom. They having a great time, so it's good to see."
European players Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter played that Sunday in 2012. Current U.S. vice captain Davis Love was the captain then.
Stricker said he has talked with Love and others about that Sunday at length and said he learned a lot of lessons about that day.
"The thing I can say is we didn't do a good job putting our lineup out on Sunday," he said. "Not that we took it for granted by any stretch of the imagine. But we could have done better with it. That was on our mind here today."
This time, he put rookie and Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele out first against McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay against Lowry, Scottie Scheffler third against Rahm, Johnson against Garcia and Collin Morikawa against Viktor Hovland, to name his first five.
"There's no doubt that's going to be strong on our minds," Europe captain Padraig Harrington said about 2012. "These things can be done. Go out there, play their game and win their point. That's the biggest thing they can do to help the team."
No Ryder Cup team has come back from six points down on Sunday.
"We have a big task tomorrow," Garcia said. "Let's see if we can make history."