The United States claimed the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits as they defeated Europe by a record margin with a 19-9 triumph on Sunday.

Padraig Harrington's side had won seven of the past nine editions of the biennial event but failed to recover from a six-shot disadvantage heading into the final day.

USA required just 3.5 points to claim the trophy on home soil, and they managed to reach that mark in just the fifth match of the finale as Collin Morikawa finished all square with Victor Hovland.

Europe had early hope through Rory McIlroy, who cruised past Xander Schaffuele to collect his first win at this year's edition but Patrick Cantlay quickly restored USA's dominance by defeating Shane Lowry.

Fellow rookie Scottie Scheffler enjoyed a magnificent singles debut, overcoming world number one Jon Rahm, before Bryson DeChambeau crushed Sergio Garcia with two holes to spare.

Morikawa and Hovland were neck-and-neck until the penultimate hole, where the former landed his iron shot within tap-in range to secure at least a half point and the trophy for the USA. Hovland won the last to halve their battle, but the Americans had the overall match in the bag.

Paul Casey chased Dustin Johnson but could not stop the two-time major champion from winning on the final hole to complete a 5-0-0 record, while Brooks Koepka eased past debutant Bernd Wiesberger despite a spirited performance from the Austrian.

Justin Thomas produced a dominant performance to demolish Tyrrell Hatton, while Lee Westwood - making his record 47th match appearance for Europe - picked up a consolation point against Harris English.

Ian Poulter also maintained his unbeaten record in singles matches to collect Europe's second win on the day, but that proved in vain, with Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood sharing the spoils as they both faltered on the 18th.

However, in the final pair, Daniel Berger edged past Matthew Fitzpatrick, who found the water at the last, as the USA defeated Europe by a record margin, surpassing the previous 18.5 to 9.5 win at Walton Heath Golf Club in 1981.

 

Shot of the day

Team USA were looking for a positive start to quash any suggestions of another repeat of the 'Miracle at Medinah' and DeChambeau provided exactly that in the fourth match of the day.

He comfortably reached the green with his drive on the par-four first, much to the delight of the Wisconsin crowd surrounding the tee box.

The world number seven could have claimed the 'shot of the day' tag with his drive, however, the subsequent 41-foot putt that followed to secure an eagle was both magnificent and important to place early pressure on the evergreen Garcia.

Player of the day

Scheffler, who was a Ryder Cup rookie and has yet to win on the PGA Tour, was sent out early and tasked with tackling world number one Rahm.

The American's rapid start, recording five birdies in the opening six holes, was enough to see off Rahm, who could not fight back from that point onwards and was finished off with three holes to go.

Sunday's singles win made it 2.5 points from a possible three, Scheffler unbeaten in the four-balls in a memorable debut in the Ryder Cup.

Chipping in

USA's winning captain Steve Stricker: "Speechless. Everything about it, these guys all came together. Two weeks ago they came together. Showed me a lot about this group of guys. They had a mission this week and you could tell, they played great and they came together. I just can't tell you - I mean, Brooks and Bryson wanted to play together; that's how much it came together. That shows a lot about this whole team."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington: "Of course we're disappointed. But the USA played well. Look, they out-played us, they are a strong team. They got their plan right. They got some momentum going. They started well. It's been good, no doubt about it. The fans were better - it's tough when you're going away and having no Europeans, but certainly above expectations in terms of an away crowd."

Rory McIlroy (on NBC): "I don't think there's any greater privilege to be a part of one of these teams, European or American. It's an absolute privilege. I've gotten to do this six times. They have always been the greatest experiences of my career. But this team, and what it feels like to be a part of, to see Sergio [Garcia] break records, to see Jon Rahm come into his own this week, to see one of my best friends, Shane Lowry, make his Ryder Cup debut. The more I play in this event I realise it's the best event in golf, bar none."

A little birdie told me...

Johnson entered this year's tournament with a 7-9 record in four previous appearances.

However, he made Ryder Cup history as he went 5-0-0, becoming just the fifth player to do so in a single Ryder Cup and the third since battles between Europe and the USA began in 1979. Previous matches saw teams from Great Britain, and Great Britain and Ireland, take on the Americans.

Johnson knew victory against Casey would see him etch his name in history, and he duly confirmed victory on the final hole, with the Englishman dragging his potential levelling putt wide.

Sunday's single results

Rory McIlroy (Eur) beat Xander Schauffele (USA) 3 and 2

Patrick Cantlay (USA) beat Shane Lowry (Eur) 4 and 2

Scottie Scheffler (USA) beat Jon Rahm (Eur) 4 and 3

Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Sergio Garcia (Eur) 3 and 2

Collin Morikawa (USA) tied Victor Hovland (Eur) A/S

Dustin Johnson (USA) beat Paul Casey (Eur) 1UP

Brooks Koepka (USA) beat Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 and 1

Ian Poulter (Eur) beat Tony Finau (USA) 3 and 2

Justin Thomas (USA) beat Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 4 and 3

Lee Westwood (Eur) beat Harris English (USA) 1UP

Jordan Spieth (USA) tied Tommy Fleetwood (Eur) A/S

Daniel Berger (USA) beat Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eur) 1UP

The 12 singles pairings for the final round of the Ryder Cup have been announced, with the United States looking to dethrone Europe on Sunday.

Team USA hold a commanding 11-5 lead following Saturday's foursomes and four-ball at Whistling Straits, where the hosts boast the biggest two-day advantage since 1975.

Steve Stricker's USA require just 3.5 points to reclaim the cup from Europe, who will need to produce the biggest ever comeback if they are to claim the required nine points to defend their crown.

"That was an important one," Stricker said after USA split the four afternoon matches. "If they blank us, they're right back in the game. I think getting two points and splitting the session is a good outcome for us."

Xander Schauffele will lead the Americans out to start Sunday's play in Wisconsin, facing struggling European star Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was dropped for Saturday's foursomes having struggled on Friday – the first time in the four-time major champion's Ryder Cup career that he has missed a session. He returned for the four-ball but fell to another defeat alongside Ian Poulter against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa 4 and 3.

The second matchup pits USA's Patrick Cantlay against Shane Lowry, while Europe captain Padraig Harrington put world number one Jon Rahm down to face Scottie Scheffler.

Bryson DeChambeau and European star Sergio Garcia meet in match four, American Collin Morikawa tackles Viktor Hovland and unbeaten USA veteran Johnson plays Paul Casey.

Elsewhere, Brooks Koepka is set to tee off against Bernd Wiesberger, Poulter and Tony Finau go head-to-head, Justin Thomas will clash with Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood goes up against Harris English, Jordan Spieth faces Tommy Fleetwood and the final matchup is a showdown between Daniel Berger and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The United States continued their dominance on day two of the Ryder Cup, the hosts closing in on the trophy after taking a commanding 11-5 lead over defending champions Europe.

Europe, who have won seven of the past nine editions of the showpiece biennial competition, split Saturday afternoon's four-ball session but face an uphill task to retain their crown in Wisconsin this weekend.

USA – enjoying the biggest two-day lead since 1975 – require 14.5 points to dethrone Team Europe and clinch the cup on home soil at Whistling Straits on Sunday.

Europe gave themselves some hope by winning the opening two matches of the afternoon's four-ball – world number one Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia topping Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth as Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton battled past Tony Finau and Harris English.

But the Americans claimed the final two matches of the day to preserve their six-shot cushion thanks to Dustin Johnson-Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler-Bryson DeChambeau.

Rory McIlroy was benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, sitting out the morning foursomes. The four-time major champion returned in the afternoon but he was unable to snap his winless run at this year's tournament, tasting defeat in his pairing with Ian Poulter versus Johnson and Morikawa.

Earlier, in the foursomes, Steve Stricker's red-hot USA were dominant once again.  

Spieth and Justin Thomas took four of the last five holes to beat the rookie duo of Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger, while Johnson and Morikawa edged past Paul Casey and Hatton.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay won for the second consecutive day, claiming holes nine, 10 and 11 to take control as they overcame Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Spanish pair Rahm and Garcia got Europe's solitary point, as they came from behind to see off Koepka and Daniel Berger despite initially going three holes down. 

 

Shot of the day

Casey ended up on the losing side in his foursomes match alongside Hatton, but he can at least reflect on a remarkable shot at the par-four 14th hole.

Hatton's drive had found the left-hand rough just short of the bunker, leaving Casey with a blind wedge shot onto the green.

Not only did he get it onto the dancefloor, but the Englishman rolled it into the cup to win the hole in style.

Player of the day

The oldest player on the Team USA roster, Johnson has led by example throughout this week. The 37-year-old is yet to taste defeat at Whistling Straits, having swept the foursomes and four-ball alongside Morikawa on Saturday. Johnson did not drop a shot in the final matchup against Poulter and McIlroy, while he and Morikawa also enjoyed a flawless display in the win over Casey and Hatton.

Chipping in

Despite a record-breaking day personally, former Masters champion Garcia told reporters: "It's great but it's not. We need more wins and unfortunately we are not getting them at the moment. I didn't even know. Steve Sands told me on the 17th hole. I didn't know the record and I didn't care. Obviously Jon and I, we did what we had to and what we could, and unfortunately it just looks like the American guys are just playing a little bit better than us, and it's a shame."

USA captain Steve Stricker said: "This team is deep. They are so good and they have had great couple of years to make this team. Everybody came in ready and prepared. They are hitting it well. They came here all on board a couple weeks ago for the final round and they put the time and effort and energy into it."

On the home-field advantage, Dustin Johnson added: "It definitely helps. It kind of keeps you going. It gets you fired up, especially right at the start. But the fans have been great this week. I felt like they have been really respectful to both sides. But obviously we have got definitely a home-field advantage here."

A little birdie told me...

Garcia was in record-breaking form in his foursomes showdown, becoming the player to win the most matches in Ryder Cup history.

The 41-year-old, who made his competition debut in 1999, claimed his 24th victory earlier in the day, moving clear of Nick Faldo's previous record.

Saturday's foursomes results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) 2 and 1
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) beat Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger (Eur) 2 up
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (Eur) 2 and 1

Saturday's four-ball results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth (USA) 2 and 1
Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur) beat Tony Finau and Harris English (USA) 1 up
Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau (USA) beat Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland (Eur) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy (Eur) 4 and 3

Tiger Woods may not be at Whistling Straits, but his influence was felt as the United States made a rip-roaring start to their Ryder Cup trophy bid.

The 45-year-old Woods is continuing his recovery from the February high-speed car crash near Los Angeles that left him with serious leg injuries, and it remains to be seen whether he is capable of playing again on tour.

But the 15-time major winner is willing the USA team to snatch back the cup from Europe, and Xander Schauffele revealed he had been in touch with a few words of encouragement.

Woods, who often struggled to take his world-beating form onto the Ryder Cup stage, had his say before the Americans raced into a 3-1 lead following the morning foursomes.

Schauffele, after teaming up with fellow debutant Patrick Cantlay to land a dazzling 5 and 3 win over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, confirmed Woods wanted to offer help from afar.

 

"We got a nice message from Tiger last night," Schauffele said on the Golf Channel.

"I'm not going to reveal what it said, but Pat and I knew and we referred to it a few times today, and we knew what we needed to do.

"We knew he was fist-pumping from the couch. Whether he was on crutches or not, he's as fired up as anyone back at home, so it's nice to have his support."

Woods has a disappointing record of just 13 wins from 37 Ryder Cup matches, an unexpectedly weak performance given his PGA Tour and major championship prowess.

But he remains an idol for many players on the team, with Schauffele and Cantlay two of six rookies on Steve Stricker's roster this year.

Cantlay said: "[There's] no better role model and no better leader and somebody you can always learn from.

"I saw him last week at home and picked his brain on Ryder Cup and applied some of that here today."

The USA pair sped to a 5up lead through five holes on the way to their dominant victory, feeding off the largely American crowd.

A disappointed McIlroy said: "The start wasn't great. I don't know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today.

"They played really good, four birdies in a row. Geez, yeah, they played great. They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played."

The United States launched their bid to reclaim the Ryder Cup from Europe as the action teed off at Whistling Straits on Friday.

Sergio Garcia, playing alongside Spanish compatriot Jon Rahm, had the honour of hitting the opening shot in the morning foursomes, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas providing the opposition.

A raucous crowd created a tremendous atmosphere on the first tee in Wisconsin, with some boos for Europe, for whom Garcia drove into a bunker before Thomas responded by finding the fairway.

Europe, then led by Thomas Bjorn, won by seven points last time out at Le Golf National in 2018 and new captain Padraig Harrington has gone for experience to kick off his team's campaign after a year's delay amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Casey, 44, joins Viktor Hovland against Dustin Johnson and Open champion Collin Morikawa in the next match out, followed by the 48-year-old Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick against Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. 

The final clash of the opening session pits Ian Poulter, 45, and Rory McIlroy against the rookie American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. 

Europe have left Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger on the sidelines for the opening matches, while Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler miss out for the hosts.

The fourballs pairings will be confirmed later in the day.

Friday's foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) v Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) v Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR)
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) v Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) v Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR)

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter have a combined 46 Ryder Cup matches to their credit, while their opponents in Friday's foursomes, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, have none. 

That disparity is of no concern to the American rookies, who expressed confidence they will be able to get the job done at Whistling Straits in the final match of Friday's opening session. 

Considering their form lately, that makes sense. Cantlay enters his first Ryder Cup ranked fourth in the world, while Schauffele – who won Olympic gold this summer in Tokyo – is fifth. 

Cantlay won the final two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs, beating Bryson DeChambeau in a playoff at the BMW Championship and edging Jon Rahm by one stroke to take the Tour Championship. 

The duo also are comfortable playing together. They paired up for the foursomes and fourball at the 2019 Presidents Cup, winning both of their foursomes matches, and each also won his singles match in that event. 

"Xander and Patrick have had success in foursomes in The Presidents Cup, so we thought it was a natural fit for them to do foursomes here tomorrow morning," said USA captain Steve Stricker, an assistant captain with that 2019 team. 

As the final match on the course in the opening session, Cantlay and Schauffele also figure to have the full-throated support of what is expected to be an overwhelmingly pro-USA crowd. 

"It will be fantastic," Cantlay said. "The Wisconsin fans will be showing up and cheering us on all day. They have been great so far this week and those have just been practice rounds." 

Whatever their comfort level, the challenge they face is daunting, as McIlroy and Poulter have played together regularly for years and have exemplary records in Ryder Cup play.

"You always want to play against the best," Schauffele said. "Best way to challenge your game. Pat and I are looking forward to putting a point on the board and going from there."

Their European counterparts will of course have something to say about that. 

While McIlroy was complimentary of the young American pair Thursday, he did note that they will be stepping into an entirely different type of arena Friday. 

"Patrick has had a hell of a year and Xander is a great player," McIlroy said. "Probably doesn't quite compare to what a Ryder Cup is, so they will feel a little different on the first tee tomorrow."

Europe will look to their Ryder Cup veterans to set the tone when play begins at Whistling Straits on Friday. 

Captain Padraig Harrington's four oldest players, all in their 40s, will feature for Europe in the morning foursomes against a youthful USA group whose oldest player, Dustin Johnson, is 37. 

All-time Ryder Cup scoring leader Sergio Garcia, 41, will lead the charge with world number one Jon Rahm as the Spanish pair face Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the opening match in Wisconsin. 

"We would have been aware that JT and Jordan would have gone first, obviously, so we were going to lead ourselves with a strong partnership," Harrington told a news conference. "The whole world will be watching that one."

Teeing off next, Paul Casey (44) will team with rookie Viktor Hovland against Johnson and Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa, followed by Lee Westwood (48) and Matthew Fitzpatrick against Brooks Koepka and Danel Berger. 

The final matchup of the opening session will pit Ian Poulter (45) and Rory McIlroy against the rookie American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. 

"We've gone with an experienced setup, no doubt about it, but it was our strong setup," Harrington said. "It just happened to be experienced. I was happy with that, there's no doubt, when it came out like that and you're looking at it and you go, yeah, that's very experienced. That is a big bonus.

"But it didn't weaken our fourballs – that was very important. We still have a strong fourball setup and we haven't taken from the afternoon by going with a strong setup in the morning." 

Europe will leave Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger on the sidelines for the opening matches, while the USA will do the same with Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler. 

While the Europe captain said it was safe to assume his players who will sit out the morning will play in the afternoon fourballs, his US counterpart Steve Stricker declined to be drawn on that topic – though both captains said their foursome and fourball pairings were set and communicated to their teams early in the week.

Each also said he was focused on his own side as opposed to worrying about what the other team might be doing, though both put special emphasis on the first and fourth matches. 

"We talked occasionally about maybe who they're going to put out, but it doesn't matter," Stricker said. "I mean, they're all such great players, they're all highly ranked players and we know that we're going to have to play our best to to beat them.

"We had an idea that Rory and Rahm would probably go one and four, and that's pretty much all we knew, or really thought about. We didn't know who their guys were going to be paired with but we kind of had that figured out, so we tried to act accordingly as well."

Asked whether any of his players had expressed disappointment in not being included in the morning pairings, Stricker immediately responded "not at all." 

"These guys have been incredible," he added. "I can't stress it enough, really, and it's about the communication that we've had, the captains and myself, and being upfront with them and just letting them know what we're thinking, so there's no curveballs.

"We've heard it multiple times from all the players: If you want to play me once, or all five, you know, that's up to you – meaning the captains – and just so we can try to win this Cup."

Friday's foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) v. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) v. Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR)
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) v. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) v. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR)

Patrick Cantlay said it is all about the challenge of battling golf's elite to win tournaments and not money after claiming the $15million FedEx Cup play-offs title with his dramatic Tour Championship success.

Cantlay earned a mammoth payday at East Lake, where the American outlasted world number one Jon Rahm by just one stroke at the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship event on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Cantlay, who entered the season finale as the leader at 10 under per the new FedEx Cup format, carded a one-under-par 69 to hold off Rahm following his flawless final-round 68.

Cantlay, teeing off with a two-shot advantage, weathered his own nerves late on, birdieing two of his final three holes, having opened the door following a bogey on the 17th.

He had a one-stroke lead going to the par-five 18th hole and hit a clutch six-iron from 218 yards to within just 12 feet to secure a dramatic wire-to-wire victory and the biggest triumph of his career.

Cantlay became the first player with four or more victories in a PGA Tour season since Justin Thomas in 2016-17.

"As silly as it sounds, the money is not what's really important for me. The money is not what drives me to play this game," Cantlay told reporters.

"Winning golf tournaments, playing golf under pressure, and hitting quality golf shots under the gun, I mean, that's why I practice and that's why I practiced my whole life, and that's the best feeling in the world, is winning golf tournaments for me. So the money is just a consequence of that."

Cantlay added: "I think the guys that I play with; I think the guys on Tour know who I am and I think they know the kind of golf that I play.

"The respect that I get from those guys and being able to compete against those guys, that's why I do what I do, and so I'm not going to get too caught up in all the other stuff but I will tell you I'm very excited to have a lot of those guys on my side in the next couple weeks in the next event I play. I'm very much looking forward to The Ryder Cup."

After falling short, Rahm said: "I gave it my all. It wasn't enough. But it is what it is. I get to go home to my beautiful wife and family and rest up a little bit.

"The year is not over. We have a couple big events coming up and a couple big ones on the European Tour."

Patrick Cantlay claimed the $15million FedEx Cup play-offs after withstanding world number one Jon Rahm at the Tour Championship.

Cantlay earned a mammoth payday at East Lake, where the American outlasted Rahm by just one stroke at the PGA Tour's season-ending event on Sunday.

Last week, Cantlay defeated Bryson DeChambeau in a thrilling six-hole play-off to ensure he would start the Tour Championship as the leader at 10 under per the new FedEx Cup format.

Spanish star Rahm entered the event four strokes adrift but his flawless two-under-par 66 in the final round set up a nervy finish in Atlanta, Georgia.

However, Cantlay – who teed off with a two-shot advantage at the start of the final day – weathered his own nerves late on, birdieing two of his final three holes to hold off Rahm, having opened the door following a bogey on the 17th.


Cantlay had a one-stroke lead going to the par-five 18th hole and hit a clutch six-iron from 218 yards to within just 12 feet to secure a dramatic wire-to-wire victory and the biggest triumph of the 29-year-old's career.

He is now in contention for the PGA Tour Player of the Year award following his fourth victory of the season – no player has more trophies in 2020-21.

"It was tough, it definitely felt different than any other week. It was the longest lead I've ever held," Cantlay said afterwards.

"I tried to stay in the present day after day and I did an amazing job of that this week. I made a couple of mistakes I wouldn't normally make and was able to centre myself when I really needed to."

Kevin Na (67) finished third at 16 under as 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (70) ended the tournament a shot further back.

Xander Schauffele – tied for fifth alongside Viktor Hovland (70) – birdied five of his final six holes en route to a six-under-par 64 for his 20th consecutive round of even par or better at East Lake.

DeChambeau closed with a final-round 66 to earn sole possession of seventh place at 13 under, while defending Tour Championship and FedEx Cup winner Dustin Johnson was two strokes further back after a three-under-par 67.

Two-time champion Rory McIlroy (67) had to settle for a share of 14th spot – 14 strokes adrift of Cantlay.

FedEx Cup leader Patrick Cantlay remains in the box seat after extending his lead at the Tour Championship to two shots after the third day in Georgia on Saturday.

Cantlay, who started the week at 10-under par as part of the new format, birdied the 18th hole to finish with a three-under round of 67 to be 20-under at East Lake Golf Club.

The 29-year-old American moved two shots clear of 2021 U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, who had one bogey and three birdies in his round of two-under-68.

Cantlay had a dramatic round, after making three birdies on his front nine to move four strokes ahead, before he stumbled with three bogeys in six holes on his back nine, around three more birdies.

The BMW Championship winner holed a 23-foot putt on the 18th for birdie to restore the lead he held at the start of the week.

"I thought it was big for momentum," Cantlay told reporters after his birdie on the 18th. "It was a nice putt to make, especially being out of position on that hole. I'll take that momentum into tomorrow."

Cantlay is the only player to win three titles during the 2020-21 PGA Tour and remained confident he could close out the victory despite the inflated magnitude of what is at stake, with $15million prize money for the FedEx Cup Playoffs winner.

"The internal drive to win golf tournaments is really what drives me, and so the external factors are not as much of a factor for me," he said.

"I'm going to feel similar to how I feel most any Sunday when I'm coming down the stretch for a golf tournament because my drive to win is strong inside me. The other stuff is just a consequence of that. I don't play the game to make money. I play the game because I want to win golf tournaments."

Americans Justin Thomas and Kevin Na are next best at 15 under and 13 under respectively, ahead of Abraham Ancer and Billy Horschel at 10 under.

Thomas and Ancer both carded top rounds of five-under-65 on Saturday to move up the standings, while world number seven Bryson DeChambeau is nine under after a two-over-72.

Thomas would have recorded his first career bogey-free round at East Lake, if he had not missed a six-foot putt for par on the 18th.

World number two and reigning Tour Championship winner Dustin Johnson moved up to eight under with a two-under-68.

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Xander Schauffele carded three under to also be eight under, alongside Jordan Spieth and Johnson.

Brooks Koepka announced his withdrawal from the Tour Championship, citing a left wrist injury.

Patrick Cantlay maintained his Tour Championship lead ahead of Jon Rahm after making birdie at his final two holes in the second round of the PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup finale.

Cantlay carded a four-under-par 66 to be one stroke clear of world number one Rahm at the halfway stage of the final FedEx Cup play-off event on Friday.

FedEx Cup leader Cantlay arrived at East Lake with a two-shot cushion at 10 under – as part of the new format, having claimed a thrilling six-hole play-off victory at the expense of Bryson DeChambeau last week.

Cantlay – the only winner of three PGA Tour titles this season – preserved that advantage following Thursday's opening round and the American golfer managed to stay atop the leaderboard at 17 under as Rahm continued his charge in Atlanta, Georgia.

While Cantlay produced a flawless performance heading into the weekend, FedEx Cup hopeful Rahm – fourth in the standings prior to this week's lucrative tournament – kept the pressure on with back-to-back 65s.

After a bogey-free front nine which featured one birdie, Rahm lit up the back nine with five birdies, including three in a row to close out the day.

There is distance between the top two and the rest of the 30-man field, with 2020 U.S. Open champion DeChambeau 11 under through 36 holes following his three-under-par 67.

Third in the standings and three strokes behind at the start of the Tour Championship, DeChambeau mixed five birdies with two bogeys to be six shots off the pace, one stroke better off than 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (67).

The FedEx Cup winner stands to collect $15million.

Tony Finau (67), Kevin Na (67), Viktor Hovland (68), Cameron Smith (68) and Harris English (69) are nine under, while two-time FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Rory McIlroy is a shot further back after shooting a 66.

McIlroy battled to turn things around on day two – the four-time major champion reeling off three consecutive birdies to close out the round after a red-hot back nine, which included six birdies in total.

"I thought the pins today were pretty tricky because all of them were, even if you hit the ball close – I hit a few wedge shots to like four, five feet – and you still had big breaking putts or if you're on the wrong side of the hole, it's still tricky," McIlroy said after recording two bogeys and a birdie from his first nine holes.

"But to be two over through four and play the last 14 in six under was a really good effort to at least just keep myself in the tournament."

Jordan Spieth (67) also reached eight under as the former world number one revealed he and his wife Annie are expecting their first child in November.

"It's something you can't hide now that we are close," Spieth said. "It's been a really great year. I've been blessed on a lot of fronts. … So it should be an exciting fall."

Reigning FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, posted a second-round 69 to be six under.

FedEx Cup leader Patrick Cantlay ended the opening round of the Tour Championship two shots clear of world number one Jon Rahm in the season finale. 

Cantlay arrived at East Lake top of the FedEx Cup standings following his thrilling six-hole BMW Championship play-off victory against Bryson DeChambeau last week. 

Under the new FedEx Cup play-off format, Cantlay's third PGA Tour title of the season ensured he started the 30-man Tour Championship with a two-stroke advantage at 10 under, ahead of Tony Finau. 

Cantlay maintained that lead on Thursday thanks to a three-under-par 67 at the lucrative season-ending event in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The American golfer birdied the last to finish with four in total for the day, having dropped a shot at the fifth during his front nine. 

FedEx Cup hopeful Rahm matched the round of the day with his five-under-par 65 – the Spanish star recording birdies at his final two holes to earn outright second position, ahead of Harris English (66) and DeChambeau (69) at eight under. 

English had a day to remember after his hole-in-one at the par-three 15th hole, the American's second on the PGA Tour and first since 2018. 

With his ace-birdie-birdie run from the 15th to 17th, English – seventh in the rankings – became the first player to cover that stretch of three holes in four-under par in a round at East Lake during the Tour Championship. 

DeChambeau teed off in third position, three strokes adrift of Cantlay, and the 2020 U.S. Open champion slipped five shots back after mixing five birdies with four bogeys. 

Viktor Hovland (66), Cameron Smith (68) and 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (67) are on seven under, and six strokes off the pace, a shot better off than Kevin Na (66) and Finau (72). 

Defending FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Dustin Johnson ended the first day at five under following his opening-round 68, alongside Brooks Koepka (67), 2015 FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth (69), Abraham Ancer (69), Louis Oosthuizen (68), Jason Kokrak (67) and Billy Horschel (65). 

Rory McIlroy – a two-time FedEx Cup and Tour championship winner – made a hot start but faded in a two-under-par-round of 68. 

McIlroy was flawless with three birdies on the front nine, however, three bogeys to go with two birdies after the turn left the former world number one nine strokes behind Cantlay. 

Patrick Cantlay outlasted Bryson DeChambeau in a thrilling six-hole play-off to win the BMW Championship and secure the FedEx Cup lead heading into the season-ending Tour Championship.

In an absorbing battle for pole position in the finale of golf's lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs race, Cantlay birdied the sixth sudden-death hole to upstage DeChambeau in Maryland on Sunday.

Cantlay (66) had drained a long-range birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a play-off with DeChambeau (66) after the pair finished 27 under through regulation at Caves Valley Golf Club.

The duo traded clutch putt after clutch putt in the play-off before Cantlay prevailed, becoming the only player with three victories on the PGA Tour this season.

Cantlay will now head to East Lake as the FedEx Cup play-offs leader – the American will start the 30-man Tour Championship 10 under, while DeChambeau will begin seven under in third, a stroke behind second-placed Tony Finau.

The win also marked the first 54-hole leader/co-leader to go on to win on Tour since Phil Mickelson at the US PGA Championship – a span of 14 events.

"I just tried to stay in my own little world. When the reporters asked me this week, 'Are they going to get to 30-under?' I didn't think so but I felt like it today," said Cantlay.

"My game feels really good, it has for a while now since the Memorial. I'm finally starting to putt like me again and it's really nice."

The final round started with Cantlay and DeChambeau tied for the three-stroke lead and the pair extended that advantage to four shots by the end of 72 holes, ahead of Im Sung-jae (67).

Rory McIlroy – a two-time Tour Championship winner and two-time FedEx Cup champion – carded a final-round five-under-par 67 to finish outright fourth at 22 under.

The former world number one will be seeded 16th for Thursday's decisive event.

Reigning FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson (66) – 15th in the rankings – finished in a tie for sixth alongside Sergio Garcia (69), a shot behind Erik van Rooyen (65).

World number one and FedEx Cup hopeful Jon Rahm will start the Tour Championship in fourth position, dropping two spots, following his two-under-par 70.

Alex Noren (66) and Abraham Ancer (71) closed out the event 18 under, though the former still missed out on a top-30 berth at East Lake.

Justin Thomas (66) – sixth in the rankings – and Brooks Koepka (68) – 20th in the standings – finished 13 shots off the pace.

Bryson DeChambeau endured a wild third round, but the FedEx Cup play-off hopeful still ended the day tied for the lead alongside Patrick Cantlay at the BMW Championship.

DeChambeau carded a five-under-par 67 to earn a share of the three-stroke lead through 54 holes at the second FedEx Cup play-off tournament on Saturday.

The 2020 U.S. Open champion's round had a little bit of everything, from back-to-back eagles to back-to-back shots in the water at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland.

DeChambeau was flawless on the front nine, mixing two eagles and as many birdies as he turned a one-shot deficit into a three-stroke lead within two holes.

The 27-year-old is the fourth player to make back-to-back eagles this PGA Tour season, while he is only second to Cam Davis (20) for most eagles (19).

Just as DeChambeau threatened to run away from the field, the big-hitting American stumbled, settling for a share of top spot after finding the water at the par-five 12th hole (bogey) and par-three 13th (double bogey).

"It was definitely colourful," DeChambeau – projected to be second in the FedEx Cup points race – told PGA Tour radio. "Thought I played pretty well the front nine, did mis-hit a drive on seven.

"Felt weird. From then on out I wasn't driving it very well, so that's what I'm going to do, work on that for tomorrow. If I can get that straightened out like I did the first few days, off the tee the first couple holes today, I mean, I'll give myself a great chance again."

Cantlay – the current FedEx Cup leader – is also 21 under heading into Sunday's final round following his six-under-par 66.

He was almost bogey-free on day three, holing an eagle and five birdies before bogeying the last.

Im Sung-jae is the nearest challenger after his third-round 66, while Rory McIlroy (65), Abraham Ancer (66), Sam Burns (65) and Sergio Garcia (67) are tied for fourth at 17 under.

World number one and defending champion Jon Rahm lost ground, dropping to outright eighth – five shots back – after a two-under-par 67.

FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson posted a seven-under-par 65 to be 14 under, while Brooks Koepka (69) ended the day a further four shots behind – two strokes better off than Justin Thomas (69).

The 121st edition of the U.S. Open takes place at Torrey Pines, a course that previously staged the major in 2008.

Tiger Woods famously triumphed in a dramatic play-off against Rocco Mediate 13 years ago, battling through the pain of a knee injury to secure the trophy for a third time. It was his 14th major triumph, but few would have predicted he would have to wait a further 11 years to add to his collection.

Woods will not be part of the field this week, but reigning champion Bryson DeChambeau will hope to match the feat of Brooks Koepka – winner in 2017 and 2018 – by defending his title.

Besides those two rivals, who else could be in contention for success in California? Time to get out the crystal ball…


LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM, REED CAN TOP THE BILLING AGAIN – Peter Hanson

A divisive figure he may be (even among his own Ryder Cup team-mates), but there is no doubting Patrick Reed's skills on the course. Moreover, he was a winner at Torrey Pines only five months ago at the Farmers Insurance Open – doing so by a convincing five-shot margin.

Four top-10 finishes have followed since, including at the Masters and his most recent tournament the Memorial. At that latter event, he led the field in scrambling and par-three scoring and Reed is tied-sixth for top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season. His scoring average of 70.039 is tied 11th and it would be no surprise to see him in contention for a second major this weekend.

XANDER TO 'SCHAUFFELE' OFF WITH TROPHY – Rob Lancaster

Californian Xander Schauffele should feel right at home at Torrey Pines, a venue where he has not always excelled but did finish in a tie for second at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open back in January. He has not won on the PGA Tour since January 2019, though only a play-off defeat denied him retaining the Sentry Tournament of Champions title the following year.

Crucially, the 27-year-old has a track record of doing well in this major. Since 2017, he has not finished outside the top six, including ending up in a four-way tie for third place at Pebble Beach in 2019 when Gary Woodland triumphed. Indeed, an American has been crowned champion in the past six editions – this year could see Schauffele hit another home run.

RAHM THE MAN FOR THIS MAJOR – Benjamin Spratt

Jon Rahm is a man in form heading into this event. Perhaps. It is slightly difficult to gauge exactly how the Spaniard is shaping up, having just recovered from COVID-19, but he was flying the last time we saw him on a golf course. Rahm led by six shots at the Memorial Tournament when he was remarkably required to withdraw following a positive test result.

The premature end to that event will not have hit Rahm's confidence, though, and the 26-year-old should not be lacking in that department heading to Torrey Pines. His first PGA Tour title came on the South Course at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, while he was a runner-up at the same event three years later.

IN-FORM CANTLAY CAN LEAD THE WAY – Jonathan Wright

An outside bet perhaps but one certainly worth considering, Patrick Cantlay shot up to number seven in the world after winning the Memorial Tournament in a play-off with Collin Morikawa this month.

That triumph may have come after Rahm had to withdraw, but Cantlay topped a strong field with his best performance of a season in which he has won two PGA Tour titles, claimed five top-10 finishes and leads the way in the FedEx Cup standings. The combination of good form and playing on the home should give the Californian great confidence.

FINAU WILL FINALLY END HIS WAIT – Russell Greaves

Tony Finau is a perennial contender at the majors and it's high time he finally got his hands on a title.

The omens bode well for the 31-year-old, who has 10 top-10 finishes in majors. Finau claimed was among the top 10 at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2017, 2018 and 2020 before ending as joint runner-up this year. He obviously enjoys this course.

He is carrying solid form into this one, too, having earned seven finishes inside the top 10 on tour this season.

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