PARIS (Reuters) - Golfing logic and the Ryder Cup record books suggest at some point during Sunday afternoon Europe’s points tally will click past the 14.5 they require to win back the old trophy.
No fuss, no bother.
After all they lead a misfiring American side 10-6 on a Le Golf National course whose tight fairways, thick rough and tough-to-read greens has so far flummoxed most of the household names in Jim Furyk’s side.
What is more, 14-times major champion Tiger Woods and stalwart Phil Mickelson have yet to win a point, while world number one Dustin Johnson has managed one in four matches.
Add in the stunning form of Europe’s new golden duo Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who have four wins from four matches, the reliability of Justin Rose and the inspirational qualities of Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter and it would appear Sunday will be a European lap of honour.
Respective captains Thomas Bjorn and his American counterpart Jim Furyk are too long in the tooth to accept that the final act will be as predictable as that.
“Tomorrow’s a different beast. Tomorrow is the individual performances that come forward, and that is a different thing to do,” Bjorn, who will need only point to Europe’s Miracle in Medinah when they overturned a four-point deficit heading into the singles to snatch a remarkable victory.
That was only one of only two times in Ryder Cup history that a team had overturned a four-point deficit on Sunday, the other one being at Brookline in 1999 when Ben Crenshaw’s American side hit back to 14.5 to 13.5.
In the 1997 edition, at Valderrama in Spain, the U.S. came desperately close to winning despite trailing by five after the first two days — eventually going down 14.5 to 13.5.
“You keep reminding yourself that we had a big lead at Valderrama; we had a big lead at Brookline, and at Valderrama, we won, but only just,” Dane Bjorn, who was on the receiving end of the scare in Valderrama, told reporters.
“History will show me and everybody ... that this is not over till you’ve got the points on the board.
“You can lose any match in the Ryder Cup and you can win any match. This is going to be a great contest tomorrow. We look forward to it.”
The 48-year-old Furyk has first-hand experience of being a player in an apparently lost Ryder Cup cause — winning his singles match at Brookline.
He also has the bitter memory of losing to Sergio Garcia at Medinah as Jose Maria Olazabal’s Europe roared back to claim an improbable victory on American soil.
“It sure sucked being on the other side, I will say that,” Furyk said. “That was one of the worst days of my career.
“The feeling of the momentum switching; the feeling of hearing the European crowd, and knowing, looking up on the board and seeing blue, it’s a tough feeling to stomach.
“Unfortunately I lost the 17th and 18th hole to Sergio, and my match was one of the key ones. I remember it very well. It’s probably in my list of top three worst nightmares in golf.”
Painful as it is, Furyk will be drumming into his players on Sunday that nothing is impossible.
“You know, there always an ebb and flow. You get out and there could be three red scores up on the board,” he said.
“I hope we get some red on the board and get some momentum. Be a lot of fun.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar