Shane Lowry is pumped and loving the Ryder Cup, but Europe facing heavy defeat: Singles preview

The United States lead Europe 11-5 heading into the final session of the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Europe's love affair with the Ryder Cup has always been defined by celebrations.

The ever-present shuddering intensity of Severiano Ballesteros stands tall, of course, but there are so many more wonderful moments that all golfers this side of the Atlantic can recall with greater clarity than episodes from their own lives.

Sam Torrance's wide open arms at the Belfry in 1985, Jose Maria Olazabal's dance of delight in 1987 (not forgetting the awkward "Oh Christ I'm not going to have to join in am I?" looks of concern from Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam), Christy O'Connor's little knee-wobble as he looked to the heavens in 1989.

A personal favourite is Philip Price's response to draining a putt across the 16th green on his way to defeating Phil Mickelson in 2002: in the long history of bashing balls with stick across fields, no nostrils have flared with quite so much intoxicated ferocity. They opened up like the very maws of Mickelson's doom.

So it was that Europe's inability to get a grasp on the 2021 Ryder Cup through the first two days was not only bereft of hope and points, but also any kind of celebration that stirred the soul.

Step forward, late on Saturday, Shane Lowry.

The Irishman and his partner Tyrrell Hatton badly needed to win for Europe's flagging mission and he was faced with an 11-foot putt to save par and, with it, the point.

That it found the bottom of the cup was good. That he walked in the putt was wonderful. That he then turned away and provided a convulsing howl of raw ecstatic joy, flinging his putter away in the process, was completely magnificent.

Europeans might not, ultimately, have victory, but they do, at least, now have a memory for the future.

Not that Lowry himself is thinking in such defeatist terms. His team trails 11-5, but he wants his triumph to prove inspirational.

"I read a quote last night, I was looking at stuff on my phone, and for some reason it popped up," he said. "It said if you've got a 1% chance, you have to have 100% faith. And I just think that we really need to live by that tonight and tomorrow and go out and give it our best.

"You just never know. All this morning, I was thinking of Medinah. And I just think, you know, there's just such a good bond in our team room. We didn't get the breaks yesterday. We got hosed. It's disappointing.

"But we're still not out of it. It's a long day tomorrow, 12 matches. If any 12 of us were going out against any of them in the match play, we would fancy our chances. We just have to believe. It's all about believing."

Of his putt he revealed: "I said to Bo (his caddie), 'I'm made for this.' I didn't know I was going to hole it, but I knew I was going to try my best, and I'm so happy with it went in.

"I've always wanted to play in a Ryder Cup. I felt like today was a great opportunity to do something. When you're in a great frame of mind, that's the stuff you think about when you're over putts like that. I felt so calm. It was great fun.

"Obviously we're a few points behind, but I'm not stopping believing. I don't care. I'm having the week of my life here, honestly, I really am.

"It's just been an incredible experience. I really hope we can go out and give them loads tomorrow and just put up a good performance.

"We were out there today fighting as hard as we can. I said to Tyrrell, I was thinking about it in bed last night. I know we'll be getting a lot of stick back home and that the captains and vice captains will be getting a lot of stick off people for the pairings or whatever, because everyone is a genius when you're not doing well.

"But everyone is out there trying their hardest and that's all you can do. I'm happy I was able to get a point for my team."

Don't discount the difficulty: no team has surmounted a challenge this great in the singles at the Ryder Cup: the US needs just three and a half points from the 12 on offer.

Let's take a look at the dozen match-ups.

Sunday singles

17.04 Rory McIlroy, Europe v Xander Schauffele, United States

McIlroy has had a nightmare. He's not only failed to score points, he just hasn't looked remotely like winning any. In contrast Schauffele has been magnificent with soaring shots tee to green, sensational recoveries when necessary, and brilliant putting too. Harrington has opted to hope that leadership of the singles jump-starts his maestro. You'd have snapped up this price for McIlroy last week, but would you really want to do so now?!?!?

17.15 Shane Lowry, Europe v Patrick Cantlay, United States

Can Lowry maintain his excitement from yesterday? A worry would be that there will be a huge mental, physical and emotional toll from that high. But I like that he has a direct focus: he is doing this for himself, for his team, for the captain, for the knowledge that they are all getting (and will get) stick. That's the difference between having kindling and wood in the belly and actually setting light to it. It's no guarantee up against an in-form foe, but he's pick of the singles at 8/5.

17.26 Jon Rahm, Europe v Scottie Scheffler, United States

Europe's best performer of the week and part of a four-pronged early attack by Harrington. There were, however, signs that he was a little fatigued late in yesterday's fourballs. And Scheffler might be the type to pounce - he was a runner-up in the WGC Dell Match Play.

17.37 Sergio Garcia, Europe v Bryson DeChambeau, United States

A golden opportunity for Garcia to improve his solo logbook. DeChambeau has played well this week, but Garcia can tackle him and put his 4-4-1 singles record in credit.

17.48 Viktor Hovland, Europe v Collin Morikawa, United States

The young rookies face off. Tricky to call.

17.59 Paul Casey, Europe v Dustin Johnson, United States

Casey 0-for-3 for the week up against DJ, who is 4-for-4 and is yet to play 18. Add DJ to a treble.

18.10 Bernd Wiesberger, Europe v Brooks Koepka, United States

Grumpy Brooks versus quiet Bernd. Part two of the treble.

18.21 Ian Poulter, Europe v Tony Finau, United States

Will the Postman end his Ryder Cup career with a meek week of three defeats? He's staring that situation in the eyes at the moment. Yet to play the 16th hole this week and will surely be desperate to win something, but has looked flat.

18.32 Tyrrell Hatton, Europe v Justin Thomas, United States

Hatton is Europe's third highest scorer this week, but he's been a bit fortunate. Without a partner to bail his long game out he may struggle. Thomas completes the 7/2 treble.

18.43 Lee Westwood, Europe v Harris English, United States

English has one point this week. If he wins another he may well tie the half-dozen Englishmen who have currently landed just two. Westwood is a staggering 3-7-0 in singles.

18.54 Tommy Fleetwood, Europe v Jordan Spieth, United States

These bottom games could be very weird. Hopefully, nerve-jangling. But potentially there could be very few people watching (this side of the Atlantic, at least).

19.05 Matt Fitzpatrick, Europe v Daniel Berger, United States

Ditto. Fitzpatrick does, however, have the motivation of not heading into the future with a 0-5 Ryder Cup record.

READ MORE: What they said: Spanish hoping to inspire another European Ryder Cup renaissance

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