Scottie Scheffler being consoled by his wife Meredith

Ryder Cup 2023: Europe lead US 9½-2½ after Hovland and Aberg’s record win in Rome

The 44th Ryder CupVenue: Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Rome Dates: 29 Sep – 1 OctCoverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Sounds, live text updates on BBC Sport website and daily highlights on BBC2

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg stormed to a record Ryder Cup victory that left world number one Scottie Scheffler in tears as Europe surged further ahead.

Europe won three of the four morning foursomes in Rome to stretch their lead over the United States to 9½-2½.

Hovland, and rookie Aberg, aided by some poor play by Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, romped to a 9&7 triumph.

Max Homa and Brian Harman combined to give the Americans their first full point of the contest with a 4&2 win.

But it was scant consolation as the visitors were again trounced in the alternate shot format, amid reports of unrest in the US team.

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It is understood that Patrick Cantlay has refused to wear a cap this week because he is not getting paid to play in the biennial contest. The US players were paid to play in the Presidents Cup – a Ryder Cup equivalent against a rest of the world team.

Cantlay was also the only US player to not wear a cap in their team photos.

Both he and his friend and Saturday morning playing partner Xander Schauffele also missed the US team’s pre-Ryder Cup visit to the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club earlier in September.

There was no questioning their commitment on the course though, as they fought back from three down after eight holes, winning three holes in succession from the 12th, to draw level.

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However, Tyrrell Hatton, who holed winning putts on the sixth and eighth holes, rolled in another on 16 to put Europe back in front and he and Jon Rahm won it on the next when Schauffele missed from four feet after the Spaniard nearly holed his tee shot.

Scottie Scheffler being consoled by his wife MeredithScheffler was consoled by his wife Meredith after a record Ryder Cup defeat

And there was no questioning what a record defeat meant to Scheffler either as the Texan broke down as he was driven away on a buggy.

A pushed drive on the first led to a double-bogey six and he and five-time major winner Koepka combined to bogey and double bogey the next two to hand Europe an advantage they would not relinquish.

Indeed they took full advantage with Sweden’s Aberg, who only turned professional in June, hitting a pin-seeker of a tee shot that set up a win on the fourth. And the pair shared five more birdies in the next six holes to complete an extraordinary victory.

Much was written about captain Luke Donald’s perceived gamble in giving Aberg a wildcard pick. But the 23-year-old has repaid the faith shown in him with two points from two matches with Hovland and Europe may well have found another successful partnership.

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood continued their fine Ryder Cup week by beating Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas 2&1 in a match that the Northern Irishman felt they played better in “than getting pushed to 17”.

Speaking to BBC Sport Northern Ireland, he added: “I have been waiting for this opportunity for two years.

“Whistling Straits was a disappointment and I wanted to put it right and redeem myself a little bit.

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“I have been able to do that over the first day and a half and now I have the opportunity to try and go unbeaten for the week.”I’m in a position where I can see the finish line. We want to win both sessions today. That is our goal.”

The only defeat for Europe came in match three when Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka were comfortably beaten by Open champion Harmon and his partner Homa.

It was just the third US win in the past 24 foursomes matches played over the past three Ryder Cups in Europe – the home side have won 19 and only two have been halved – and further supports Donald’s decision to start with that format.

Home captains always choose between foursomes and fourballs and Europe have traditionally gone with fourballs but Donald insisted on the alternate shot matches to get “a fast start” and his plan has clearly worked.

Saturday fourballs announced

McIlroy, who is back out with Matt Fitzpatrick for the afternoon foursomes against Cantlay and Wyndham Clark, will, along with Hovland, be the only Europeans to play in all five sessions.

Hovland has 2½ points from three matches so far and he will again partner Aberg as they take on Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa in the top match.

Fleetwood is out with Nicolai Hojgaard against Homa and Harman, while Justin Rose and Bob MacIntyre take on Spieth and Thomas.

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