Darren Clarke insisted Europe’s Ryder Cup team are not without Sunday hope, despite trailing the USA by three points heading into the singles at Hazeltine.
The US placed daylight between themselves and the visitors during Saturday afternoon’s fourballs session, which Davis Love III’s men claimed 3-1. Five members of the European contingent are yet to win a point, with psychological damage seemingly enhanced by Lee Westwood’s late missing of a tiny putt on the 18th green to halve a fourball match.
“We’re going to have to work hard now tomorrow,” said Clarke. “It’s been done before from a worse position but we have a big task ahead of us. These guys are capable of doing it.
“Obviously, we are disappointed with this afternoon’s result. We hung in there this morning and got back close again and then we had a few chances today to get something but the American guys played very well.
“We have to believe in ourselves and go out and play. With the team that’s here this week, I don’t need to pick them up. They will know and understand they have a big challenge ahead of them but I’m sure they will be up for it. I won’t have to do too much to lift them up.”
Love pointed to a change of atmosphere within the USA setup. “We’re in a good position,” said the captain. “The team are bonded together. We always get criticised that we don’t bond as a team and we don’t have enough passion and we do but this time we’ve taken it personally.
“We understand there is a long way to go so we’ve got to be focused for one more day.”
A fiery scene in Minnesota drew comment from Ian Poulter, one of Clarke’s vice-captains. Spectator goading of European players was recurring, with Rory McIlroy asking for one fan to be removed following a volley of abuse after the four‑times major winner walked from the 7th green.
“Irrespective of the score, the US players are policing the fans as they are embarrassed by their behaviour,” said Poulter. “Shame some spoiling this.”
Of his specific afternoon incident, McIlroy explained: “Someone just said a few derogatory things I thought was out of line. That particular guy, this is obviously in the very, very small minority, just took it a bit too far. I think there’s been some boundaries overstepped.”