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US pushes back against European Ryder Cup tide

US golfer, Brian Harman (L) is watched by his caddie, Scott Tway as he chips onto the 16th green during their four-ball match on the second day of play in the 44th Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome on 30 September 2023. (AFP)

The United States is fighting back against a European Ryder Cup tide as the holders lead in two of four Saturday afternoon four-ball matches in Rome.

Zach Johnson’s US was trailing by seven points at the end of a disastrous set of morning foursomes in which they lost three, including a record-breaking hammering at the hands of Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg, as Europe moved 9.5-2.5 ahead.

The Americans are bidding for a first Ryder Cup win on European soils in three decades.

They needed a big afternoon session and with all fourball matches now over the halfway mark they are comfortably ahead in two and right in two other tight contests.

Max Homa and Brian Harman were the only morning bright spot when they put the first full point on the board for the US, seeing off Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka 4 and 2.

And the pair followed up that win by cruising into a three-hole lead through 11 against Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard.

Hovland and Aberg have been unable to recreate the morning magic that led to an all-time biggest Ryder Cup foursomes win against Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, a barely believable 9 and 7.

The all-Scandinavian pairing appears to have run out of gas and have had the tables turned on them by Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa, down five with five to play having only won two holes.

How the two teams go into the final Sunday singles will come down to the final two matches, which are much closer affairs.

Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick lead Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark by a single hole after 10 holes of the last match of the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose, one of three European pairings to snatch last-hole halves in Friday’s fourballs, are tied after the front nine with Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

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