The Europeans will be happy to see the Collin Morikawa-Dustin Johnson team dissolved on Sunday. But it’s probably too late.
Morikawa and Johnson swept their two matches Saturday to go with the win in foursome competition they posted Friday, helping to power the Americans to a commanding 11-5 lead entering the final day of the 43rd Ryder Cup.
Morikawa clinched the Saturday afternoon four ball victory by sinking a 22-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole.
The 24-year-old Cal grad and his 37-year-old playing partner — the oldest player on the American team — dominated Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy 4 and 3.
“It’s been amazing. It’s just been so much fun. What a great experience,” said Morikawa, playing in his first Ryder Cup.
"There’s a little nerves, but I loved every part of it. You’ve got to embrace it, got to enjoy it. I’ve got 11 other great teammates and very thankful for them.”
All 12 players on each roster will compete in singles on Sunday at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler, Wisconsin, with the Americans needing just 3 1/2 points to secure the win. No team has ever scored fewer than 3 1/2 points in the Sunday singles event.
Morikawa will face Viktor Hovland in the fifth pairing of the day, set to tee off at 9:48 a.m. PT.
The Europeans have won four of the past five Ryder Cups but the Americans took control Friday, going 3-1 in both the morning and afternoon. They won 3-1 again Saturday morning in the foursome event, then split the four points in the best-ball afternoon competition.
Every American player has been part of at least one victory over the event’s first two days, but Johnson and Morikawa have been perfect. Johnson played 72 holes in two days and scored a point all four rounds.
Morikawa sat out the Friday afternoon four ball session but was reunited with Johnson for both rounds on Saturday.
In the afternoon, the twosome won the sixth, seventh and eighth holes for a 3 up lead they never surrendered. McIlroy and Poulter won just a single hole — the fifth.
Morikawa’s drive on the short par-4 sixth hole to within 12 feet earned a conceded eagle, pushing the Americans in front to stay.
Europe had its best showing Saturday afternoon, securing two wins. Shane Lowry and Tyrell Hatton beat Tony Finau and Harris English 1 up, and the Spanish tandem Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm stayed hot, beating Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka 2 and 1 to make it 10-5.
But Americans Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau finished strong, winning 14, 15 and 16 for a 2 and 1 victory over Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland to extend the team’s lead to 11-5.
In the morning, Morikawa and Johnson won their foursome match as the Americans pushed their lead to 9-3.
Morikawa sank a 3-foot putt on 17 to clinch a 2 and 1 victory over England’s Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton. That gave the Americans a 7-3 lead after Rahm and Garcia picked up a point a few minutes earlier.
“To close out a match is the best feeing,” Morikawa said. “It’s sometimes the hardest shot you’re going to have all day.”
The American tandems of Spieth/Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele closed out morning with victories as the home team took three of four matches for the third straight session over two days.
Morikawa and Johnson won the first three holes Saturday morning and were 4 up after 10. They won holes No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8.
But Casey and Hatton slowly crept back and were down just one after Casey made a remarkable 107-yard chip for an eagle-2 on the par-4 14th hole.
The Americans pushed the lead back to 2 up on the 15th before clinching the match two holes later.
Saturday was another chapter in a remarkable start to Morikawa’s PGA career. He turned pro in 2019 and already has won two majors, including the British Open this summer. He just missed a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, where he also strained a muscle in his lower back, which hampered him for weeks.
Acknowledging that his fouled up his swing while compensating for the injury, Morikawa used the past three weeks to iron out those bad habits and the world’s third-ranked player has been his old self through two days at the Ryder Cup.
Morikawa and Johnson beat England’s Paul Casey and Norway’s Viktor Hovland 3 and 2 on Friday, helping spark the Americans to a 6-2 lead on Day 1.
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Kyle Terada, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo