Ryder Cup 2020: Biggest Ryder Cup win in sight for USA at Whistling Straits
A Ryder Cup record for the biggest margin of victory is within sight for Team USA as they take a six-point lead over Europe into Sunday's singles; watch live on Sky Sports Ryder Cup from 5pm
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 26/09/21 1:33am
The dominance of Team USA over the first two days of the 43rd Ryder Cup has, inevitably, prompted predictions for a record margin of victory if the trend continues in Sunday's singles at Whistling Straits.
The home side enjoy a commanding 11-5 lead after the first four sessions in Wisconsin, the first time the US have led by more than five points heading into the final day, and they require only three and a half points from the remaining 12 matches to regain the iconic gold trophy.
Since 1979, when Great Britain and Ireland was changed to Europe on the advice of Jack Nicklaus, there have been three contests with a winning margin of nine points, a record that is under threat from Steve Stricker's powerhouse line-up.
The USA team that cruised to an 18.5-9.5 victory at Walton Heath in 1981 is widely regarded as the strongest side in the history of the competition, with captain Dave Marr having an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.
Europe were on a hiding to nothing up against Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, reigning Masters champion Tom Watson, Open champion Bill Rogers and PGA champion Larry Nelson, with Bruce Lietzke the only member of the side that would never win a major.
Home captain John Jacobs was given a further hurdle to clear when he was unable to select Seve Ballesteros with the Spaniard embroiled in a dispute with the European Tour over appearance money, although the sceptics were wondering what the fuss was about when day one ended with Europe a point ahead.
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But the tide turned on the second day as Team USA won seven of the day's eight matches, the tone being set when Nick Faldo and Sam Torrance were crushed 7&5 by Trevino and Jerry Pate in the opening fourballs encounter.
A five-point lead heading into Sunday's singles was never under threat, with Faldo, Manuel Pinero and Howard Clark, who upset Watson 4&3, putting the only blue on the board on the final day as Team USA ran out convincing victors.
That nine-point win remained the biggest for Team USA until their resounding 17-11 triumph at Hazeltine in 2016, with Europe dominating the 16 Ryder Cup editions in between - their 10 overall victories including back-to-back nine-point drubbings.
Having regained the trophy at The Belfry in 2002, Bernhard Langer proved an astute choice as captain on American soil two years later, the German masterminding a record-breaking success at Oakland Hills in Detroit.
Fears of a home crowd every bit as intimidating as Brookline in 1999 were quelled early in Ryder Cup week as Langer oversaw a "charm offensive" that went down well with the locals, including the unlikely sight of Colin Montgomerie inviting a critic from the gallery to better his seven-iron from the rough during a practice round.
But the inspired Europeans ensured the fans would have little to cheer during the three days of competition, a five-point lead after day one knocking the stuffing out of Hal Sutton's star-studded US side that included Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, whose bitter rivalry ramped up further when they lost twice on day one paired together.
Having taken an 11-5 lead into the singles, the result was hardly in doubt long before Monty secured the winning point against David Toms, a 1up victory that the Scot repeated two years later amid emotional scenes at The K Club in Ireland.
The arrival of Darren Clarke on the first tee on Friday morning, just six weeks after wife, Heather, lost her battle with cancer, was one of the most memorable moments in Ryder Cup history. Rather than be overwhelmed by the circumstances, Clarke dried his eyes, hammered a 300-yard drive down the middle, flicked a wedge to 10 feet and nailed the putt for birdie.
The man of the moment would go on to win his two fourballs matches with Lee Westwood, beating US lynchpins Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk on day two, and Clarke almost had the honour of securing the winning point when he held off Zach Johnson in Sunday's singles.
The winning moment would ultimately fall to Henrik Stenson, who capped three days of one-sided competition in which Europe won each of the first four sessions by 2.5 to 1.5 before Montgomerie's second win over Toms in the first match out on Sunday was the first of eight singles victories for Ian Woosnam's invincibles.
It's a tall order for Team USA to surpass that margin of victory in this year's encounter, but they are traditionally strong in the singles and, with eight of the world's top 10 players in their side, winning eight of Sunday's matches is well within the realms of possibility.